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

Hawk Tail Brewery ready to open doors

New Rimbey business to begin operation

Basketball Battle of Ponoka set for two high schools

Perhaps the first time ever in league, the Ponoka Broncs play against the St. Augustine Kings & Queens

Motorist flees police near Ponoka, escapes on foot

While attempting a traffic stop police say the driver sped off before hitting the ditch

Ponoka residents to see rise in utility rates in 2019

Change to power transmission rider, sewer charges will see cost of living in Ponoka rise

Two overtime victories for the Ponoka Stampeders

Local junior squad resilient in pair of extra time contests this past week

Girl opens Christmas present she gave to boy when she dumped him in 1971

Adrian Pearce, now a married father of two, received the small present from his highschool sweetheart

WATCH: CP Holiday Train rolls into Lacombe

Kelly Prescott performed for hundreds of Central Albertans

In Canada, the term ‘nationalism’ doesn’t seem to have a bad rap. Here’s why

Data suggest that Canadians don’t see the concept of nationalism the way people do in the United States

Ponoka News picks its top 10 *animated* Christmas shows

The not-so-scientific list brings a mix of new and classics to the table

Canadians spent $1.7 billion dollars online in December 2017

Online retail sales accounted for 3.4 per cent of total retail sales

China: Canada’s detention of Huawei exec ‘vile in nature’

Huawei is the biggest global supplier of network gear for phone and internet company

Canadian community rallies behind hundreds who lost their jobs ahead of holidays

ServiCom facility closure in Nova Scotia was announced Thursday, following weeks of pay delays

Canada seeking new members of anti-coal alliance at climate meeting

Poland relies on coal for almost 80 per cent of its electricity, more than double the global average

Shoppers Drug Mart granted licence to sell medical marijuana online

Shoppers was granted a medical marijuana producer licence in September, after applying in October 2016

Most Read