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

Just Posted

Semiahmoo students to raise awareness about acid throwing

The Grade 11 students are to host a fundraiser for victims

VIDEO: Surrey Vaisakhi Parade floods Newton streets

Hundreds of thousands of people attended the annual event

Setting the stage for emerging performers

Variety fundraiser and ongoing open-mics showcase local talent

VAISAKHI EXPLAINED: Founding of the Khalsa was a seminal event in Sikh history

There are five K’s – articles of faith – worn by baptized Sikhs

Four Surrey students head to New Brunswick for Canada-wide science fair

Three projects move to nationals following regional fair at KPU

Dashcam captures close call between minivan, taxi at busy Vancouver intersection

To make the footage more nerve-wracking, a pedestrian can be seen standing at the corner

B.C. fire department rescues kittens

Enderby homeowner not aware kittens in wood pile near garbage pile fire that got out of hand

RCMP looking for witnesses to four-vehicle crash in Burnaby

Police suspect impaired driving was a contributing factor

QUIZ: How much do you know about Easter?

Take this short quiz and put your knowledge to the test

B.C. VIEWS: NDP’s lawyer show is turning into a horror movie

Court actions pile up over pipelines, car insurance, care aides

Global Affairs warns Canadians in Sri Lanka there could be more attacks

A series of bomb blasts killed at least 207 people and injured hundreds more

VIDEO: Fan support almost deafening as Giants take Game 2 in finals

Vancouver G-Men cap comeback with thrilling third period to beat Spokane 4-2 on home ice in Langley

Waste not: Kootenay brewery leftovers feed the local food chain

Spent grains from the Trail Beer Refinery are donated to local farmers and growers, none go to waste

Most Read

l -->