Funding announcement for indigeneous housing across B.C. was made Saturday at Katzie First Nation reserve in Pitt Meadows. (Contributed)

Housing help for B.C. native groups

Katzie First Nation will build 39 new homes on reserve

A total of 39 new homes will be built on the Katzie First Nation reserve as part of a multi-million-dollar funding announcement Saturday from the province, calling for 1,143 homes for indigenous people to be built across B.C. in the next four years.

The announcement was made Saturday on the Katzie reserve in Pitt Meadows. The Katzie First Nation Housing Society will receive $7.8 million to build the homes.

Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, said the housing situation faced by indigenous people in B.C. was unacceptable.

“Through these new homes, we are working together with First Nations, the Aboriginal Housing Management Association and indigenous housing providers to take an important step toward addressing this critical need in every corner of the province,” Robinson said.

Katzie chief Grace Cunningham described the funding as a “monumental gift for our community that will have a significant impact for generations to come.”

She wants to see the homes, contained within three new buildings on the reserve, built as soon as possible.

Two of the buildings will operate under the supportive housing model, while a third will be an apartment building with independent living.

While housing on reserves is a federal responsibility, she credited the province for taking on the project.

Indigenous communities are growing and the province recognizes that and is supporting the bands, she added.

“Which is absolutely wonderful and necessary,” said Cunningham.

The issues are significant and impact the community daily and affect family life, Cunningham said in her statement.

“We are ready to go. We are just waiting for further communication.”

The supportive housing will help youth aging out of the child care system, as well as assist with family reunification and women fleeing domestic violence, and people dealing with mental health and addictions issues. The housing project arose out of the band’s five-year strategic plan.

Job training, access to counselling, life skills support, traditional healing and restorative justice are some of the services that will be provided.

“This legacy will restore dignity and fulfill the dreams of many,” Cunningham said.

She thanked B.C. Housing and Robinson “for supporting the vision for health and wellness for our families.”

She added that the “supportive living model” of housing that will be provided is a “stepping stone to not just housing, but toward healing.”

The first set of homes selected through the Building B.C.: Indigenous Housing Fund includes nearly 780 off-reserve homes and 370 homes on-reserve.

“B.C. is the first province in Canada to recognize that there need to be funds for on-reserve housing projects,” Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows MLA Lisa Beare said.

“Indigenous people have struggled to find quality, affordable housing in their communities.”

The announcement is a part of a 10-year, $550-million plan to build 1,750 new units of social housing for indigenous people, both on and off reserve.

B.C. Housing will work with indigenous non-profit housing providers and First Nations to finalize the projects over the next few months. A second proposal call is anticipated for spring 2020.

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Katzie First Nation chief Grace Cunningham.

Katzie Chief Grace Cunningham addresses gathering. (Contributed)

Funding announcement for indigeneous housing across B.C. was made Saturday at Katzie First Nation reserve in Pitt Meadows. (Contributed)

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