June 21, 2018
HIC commends the Government of British Columbia’s announcement it is creating a new Indigenous housing fund and committing funding to build housing for BC’s Indigenous communities. Announced June 18 by Premier John Horgan, the Building BC: Indigenous Housing Fund will see the provincial government invest $550 million towards the construction and operation of 1,750 units of social housing on and off reserves over the next decade.
Housing Minister Selina Robinson acknowledged the extraordinary housing challenges Indigenous Peoples face and said the new fund will be a major step forward in making sure there is more safe and secure housing available.
“HIC is encouraged by the government’s recognition of the need for and commitment to providing safe, secure and affordable homes for BC’s indigenous peoples. The Indigenous Housing Fund initiative closely aligns with HIC’s mandate to create a First Nations-controlled Housing & Infrastructure Authority in British Columbia. HIC believes the initiatives share an outcome on creating housing and infrastructure that deliver on the needs of First Nations in British Columbia,” says HIC Chair Dan George.
The government hopes to identify 1,000 units across all Indigenous communities by fall, with the criteria to be put in place by BC Housing and the Ministry of Housing. BC Housing will issue a request for proposals to identify prospective partners, including Indigenous non-profit housing providers, First Nations, Métis Nation British Columbia, and non-profit and for-profit developers, wanting to partner with Indigenous housing providers and First Nations. The new housing will be developed in partnership with the Aboriginal Housing Management Association, Indigenous housing societies and First Nations.
HIC Council Member Jim Munroe attended the announcement, which was held in Prince George. He spoke with Minister Robinson to provide insight into the work HIC is doing and parallels between the initiatives to identify opportunities for collaboration with the housing ministry.
“Minister Robinson and I had a very positive conversation. I provided background on HIC’s mandate to design and implement a BC First Nations Housing Authority that assumes responsibility for the delivery of services that Canada Mortgage and Housing and Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada currently provide. The Minister confirmed her government supports this direction and wants to work with the federal government to advance it. She also affirmed her government’s desire for better housing and infrastructure for First Nations," he shares.
As part of its first phase of engagement, HIC has been meeting with leaders and managers responsible for First Nations housing & infrastructure in British Columbia as well as relevant government agencies and industry service providers (from housing to finance to infrastructure) to understand the services provided and where collaboration is possible. They will be using the engagement findings to develop delivery model options for consideration.
The selected model will aim to bring efficiencies, ensure collaboration between administration, service providers and communities, and support those responsible for the coordination, delivery and management of housing and infrastructure. It will also be designed to enable First Nations to make their own housing decisions, facilitate financial mechanisms to deliver housing on reserves, and ensure equal access to housing.