In my travels across Alberta speaking with First Nations, Métis and Inuit people, one concern that comes up repeatedly is the need for affordable housing. Many Indigenous people – especially families and seniors – are priced out of the conventional housing market. Even when affordable housing is available, other barriers exist.
Available units are often too small to accommodate larger families. Others have strict no-smoking policies that don’t allow for the ceremonial burning of sweet grass. It can be difficult for elders to find appropriate lodging close to the rural communities where they grew up.
The Government of Alberta has heard these concerns and we’ve responded by committing $120 million towards the Indigenous Housing Capital Program. This program is unique because it helps Indigenous governments and organizations design and deliver affordable housing to Indigenous communities. Simply put, it is a housing program designed by Indigenous people, for Indigenous people.
The Indigenous program is part of our larger Provincial Affordable Housing Strategy. This strong initiative has a goal of restoring and creating 4,100 affordable housing units by 2021. No Albertan should lack a safe and affordable place to call home.
On behalf of Minister of Seniors and Housing Lori Sigurdson, I was proud to announce the Indigenous program recently in Peace River. Seniors and Housing is already accepting applications to the program, which can be found online at alberta.ca/ihcp.
Indigenous governments and organizations, housing management bodies, municipalities and not-for-profit organizations with formal partnerships with Indigenous governments or organizations are eligible to apply. The goal of the program is to increase the supply of off reserve, off- and on-settlement and non-market affordable housing for Indigenous peoples.
As the Minister of Indigenous Relations, I applaud Minister Sigurdson for her leadership in developing this program. Last year, she embarked on a listening tour and the result is a program that respects the autonomy of Indigenous people founded on the principle of self-determination.
Our government is committed to the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. I am proud that we are partnering with Indigenous groups so they can design and deliver affordable housing to address critical housing needs in their communities.
We hope to see projects underway as early as 2019.
Hon. Richard Feehan, Minister of Indigenous Relations
NOTE: The views expressed in this column do not necessarily represent those of rdnewsNOW or the Jim Pattison Broadcast Group. Column suggestions and letters to the editor can be sent to [email protected].
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