Indigenous housing providers worried Liberal proposals could put families on the streets

Indigenous housing providers raise alarms about future of federal funding deals

Indigenous social housing providers will soon push the federal government to rethink plans to overhaul their funding arrangements because they worry the Liberal proposals could leave thousands of low-income families on the street.

Federal officials are set to start consultations on how to spend almost $500 million in the coming years as federal operating agreements expire and a new funding scheme is put in place to subsidize rents.

The hope is that housing providers will shift to new funding models that make them less reliant on federal cash to operate.

RELATED: 2018 may be the year of affordable housing

The issue is also expected to be highlighted to the minister in charge of the file during a planned breakfast meeting this week.

Even though Indigenous providers make up a small portion of the social housing covered by the agreements, those in the sector say they are less able to become self-sustaining than their larger counterparts who serve a wider population.

Justin Marchand, executive director of Ontario Aboriginal Housing Services, says his organization has been diversifying revenue sources, but that takes time and is easier for larger providers with the necessary resources and assets.

“It is a difficult task particularly when you’re a smaller (housing) provider and you might only have one or two staff,” Marchand said.

“In principle, we want both ourselves as an organization, other (urban Indigenous housing) providers and the people we serve to be economically self-sufficient, but how we go about doing that, we really need to give some thought to that.”

Indigenous housing providers say what separates them from other social housing is how their funding was set up in the first place decades ago.

At the time, they were given deeper resources as an acknowledgment that Indigenous Peoples living in cities and rural towns faced greater financial barriers to cover housing costs, said Marc Maracle, executive director of Gignul Non-Profit Housing Corporation in Ottawa.

RELATED: B.C. First Nation builds tiny homes amid housing crisis

A report in May from the Indigenous caucus of the Canadian Housing and Renewal Association said that some 118,500 Indigenous households, or 18.3 per cent, lived in “core housing need,” meaning they lived in homes that stretched them financially, required hefty repairs, or were too small for their families.

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. reported late last month that some 1.6 million homes, or 13.6 per cent of all urban households, were in core housing need in 2016, a figure relatively unchanged from 2015.

Maracle said the only path to fiscal sustainability is to maintain some sort of subsidy while also providing some help to develop more housing that is blended towards market rent to generate more revenue, and plow the extra cash into existing affordable units and “maintaining a deeper subsidy to the tenants who need it.”

But the stock of housing is aging for many service providers, making it more expensive for them to convert to higher-cost units that subsidize homes for low-income families.

“For me to (be) sustainable, I’d have to do a lot of upgrades and we’re not funded adequately enough to make those upgrades. There’s not enough money to do it all,” said Frances Sanderson, executive director of Nishnawbe Homes in Toronto.

She said many Indigenous housing providers would have to fold without the operating agreements, leaving thousands with no place to live.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

West Kelowna to hire eight more firefighters

The city looks to solve what they are calling a critical shortage of firefighters

Kelowna RCMP look to reunite stamp collection with owner

The stamp collection was handed to RCMP in Oct.

Kelowna RCMP search for speed-slowing cut out

The cut out of Const. Warren Ning has been allegedly taken from A.S. Matheson Elementary School

Battling winter blues, depression and SAD after the holidays

Kick the blues on ‘Blue Monday’ that is supposedly the most depressing day of the year

UPDATE: B.C. legislature managers accused of excessive travel, expenses

Speaker Darryl Plecas’ report details ‘flagrant overspending’

Anti-pipeline group wants NEB to consider impact of emissions, climate change

Stand.earth filed NEB motion asking to apply same standard to the project as it did with Energy East pipeline

B.C. man charged in 2014 snake venom death of toddler

Henry Thomas was taking care of the North Vancouver girl the day before she died

Parole granted for drunk driver who killed B.C. RCMP officer

Kenneth Jacob Fenton will be able to attend alcohol abuse treatment, nearly three years after crash that killed Const. Sarah Beckett

B.C.’s largest public-sector union wants inquiry into money laundering, drugs

Union officials say Premier John Horgan and Attorney General David Eby have not ruled out the possibility of a public inquiry

Teen in confrontation with Native American: I didn’t provoke

Nick Sandmann of Covington Catholic High School said he was trying to defuse the situation

Man admits responsibility for 2016 death of Shuswap motorcyclist

Brian Watson, 60, died after being struck while riding his motorcycle on Squilax-Anglemont Road

Kamloops video rental store robbed for second time in 8 days

Movie Mart was robbed on Jan. 11 and held up again on Saturday afternoon under very similar circumstances

Most Read