The First Nations Housing and Infrastructure Council of BC is in charge of setting up a new housing authority. (First Nations Housing & Infrastructure Council BC Facebook)

A dedicated B.C. First Nations housing authority moves ahead

Agency will take over federal responsibility to develop and handle on- and off-reserve housing

A dedicated housing authority for First Nations in B.C. is closer to becoming a reality.

First Nations and representatives of the provincial and federal governments met at a two-day forum in Richmond earlier this month to set out the parameters of an agency that would develop and handle housing programs in B.C.

The First Nations Housing and Infrastructure Council of BC is leading the effort and hosted the forum, which touched on governance, finances, and the integration of on- and off-reserve housing.

The end goal is for the council to take over leadership from the federal government for the first housing authority of its kind in Canada.

“Nothing against the government, but when they run this, they are doing what they think our community needs,” council director Garry Merkel told Black Press Media. “When they don’t do it right and when they make mistakes, they don’t feel from those mistakes, they don’t learn from those mistakes and they don’t grow from them.”

A major issue facing people living on reserves is overcrowding. In 2013, Statistics Canada found that 13 per cent of on-reserve and six per cent of off-reserve B.C. First Nations people lived in crowded homes, while one in five lived in homes in need of major repairs.

In its 2019 budget, the B.C. government allocated $550 million over 10 years for the construction of 1,750 affordable housing units both on- and off-reserve.

On Tuesday, Ottawa announced it would spend $638 million on housing for Indigenous people living in cities and urban areas as part of its budget, though advocates say that won’t provide enough money or address the basic causes of Indigenous homelessness.

READ MORE: ʔaq̓am community set to break ground on new health and wellness centre

The authority is still in the developing stages, but Merkel said they can look to the BC First Nations Health Authority – something that took 10 years to create.

“We have a rough process to work with, and so we can save a lot of time on things they had to figure out.”

The transfer of the services to the new authority will be implemented in stages. Merkel hopes to begin it in two fiscal years.

– with a file from The Canadian Press



joti.grewal@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Golden Dollar Store celebrates 20 years

Opening its doors in December 1993, the store will spend 2020 celebrating 20 years of business

Kicking Horse Update, Tuesday February 18

Kicking Horse reports no new snow in the last 24 hours. The… Continue reading

Golden Highway Update, Tuesday February 18

When travelling along Highway 1 this morning, watch for slippery sections between… Continue reading

First presumptive case of coronavirus identified in the Interior Health region

The woman, in her 30s, travelled from Shanghai and lives in the interior

Two injured in semi truck incident on Trans Canada Highway Feb. 13

One was pinned between a semi and a plow when another semi hit the wreckage

Protesters barricade Premier John Horgan’s home ahead of B.C. budget unveiling

Demonstrators from the Extinction Rebellion have blocked the Langford driveway

Budget 2020: B.C. NDP taps top tax bracket for more revenue

Minimum wage set to pass $15 an hour by 2021

Budget 2020: Not much new for B.C.’s struggling forest industry

Focus on wood waste utilization, efficiency, ministry budget cut

Skull reconstruction gives new insight into unknown man found in B.C. cemetery

RCMP released a 3-D skull reconstruction of a man who was found dead on July 2, 1998

Forest industry supporters and convoy arrive at B.C. legislature in Victoria

Rally delivers petition in favour of ‘working forests’

Ten poisoned eagles rushed to veterinary hospital in Nanaimo

Eagles stricken after eating flesh of euthanized animal at Nanaimo Regional Landfill

What’s in a name? The story of Revelstoke’s Mt. Begbie

It’s likely the iconic peak had several Indigenous peoples’ names before settlers arrived

Trudeau says Wet’suwet’en crisis, rail blockades a critical moment for country

First Nations leaders suggest it may be time to peacefully end the blockades

B.C. budtenders become first private cannabis workers to unionize in Canada

Two of seven Clarity Cannabis storefronts vote to join UFCW 1518 union

Most Read