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B.C. government to fund more than 1,000 affordable homes for Indigenous communities

Indigenous housing operators and First Nations can submit proposals for Indigenous Housing funding until April next year
The Squamish Nation will be among those to put forward a proposal for funding for new affordable housing through the Indigenous Housing Fund. | Jennifer Thuncher, The Squamish Chief files

A request from the provincial government for more proposals for its Building BC: Indigenous Housing Fund could see more than 1,000 new affordable homes available for local First Nations communities.

The call-out, the second to come since the funding was first announced in 2018, invites Indigenous housing operators, First Nations, and other Indigenous organizations to submit applications for funding for their affordable housing proposals.

Proposals, which can be made for homes on and off reserve, will be accepted by BC Housing until April 30 next year. The chosen projects will be announced by the summer.

Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation) elected council member Sxwíxwtn (Wilson Williams) said the funding shows the government is being responsive to the needs of Indigenous communities.

Building a home that includes design for multi-generational living, gathering, and cultural expression will help “ensure people have connections to one another, to their language and to their culture,” he said.

“It also helps those smaller, rural Indigenous communities across the province that are so in need of additional housing.”

Williams said the Nation will apply for funding for the first time for a project on the Ch’ich’élx̱wí7 ḵw Seymour Indian Reserve No. 2, in addition to applying for pre-development funding for building on the Eslhá7an (Mission) Reserve.

Since the launch of the $1.8 billion Indigenous Housing Fund, more than 1,500 homes have gotten underway, with 1,200 more units expected to be announced by next summer.

Chief Jen Thomas of the səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh Nation) said the Nation is “pleased” to be given another option for housing in the community.

“This new pot of funding gives us another opportunity to look at different ways of getting houses and to bring our members back to the community,” she said, adding how the Nation has benefited from many projects before – a new 50-unit apartment building is currently underway through BC Housing’s Community Housing Fund – but never through the IHF.

“We are always struggling for funding. This is going to help out a lot of communities because there is such a big shortage for homes for members of all Indigenous communities.”

The Indigenous Housing Fund is part of a $19-billion housing investment by the B.C. government, which has seen more than 77,000 homes delivered or started since 2017.

Mina Kerr-Lazenby is the North Shore News’ Indigenous and civic affairs reporter. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.

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