New homes in east Elmwood for five Métis families

An off-reserve program is slated to build 10 new homes for low-to modest-income Métis families.

Working with Habitat for Humanity and the Winnipeg Métis Association, the Manitoba government has committed $100,000 toward each new home through the Een Dah Aung (Our Home) Home Ownership program for aboriginal off-reserve housing.

“We’re very excited about this partnership arrangement with Habitat for Humanity Winnipeg, governments and our Winnipeg region,” said David Chartrand, president of the Manitoba Métis Federation. “Strong families are the foundation of our people and giving families a leg up to grow and develop in a good home, which they have helped to build, is an outstanding way to build those strong families.”

Habitat and the selected families will build five homes in the first year and five the following year on the site of the former Sir Sam Steel School in the east Elmwood neighbourhood of Winnipeg.

“Affordable housing is an important step on the road to a productive, stable life,” said Family Services and Housing Minister Gord Mackintosh. “We want to help families navigate the path to success.  Safe, secure, affordable housing is the right place to start.”

Mackintosh said the new homes will be built to Manitoba Hydro’s Power Smart gold standard.   

“The partnership between the Métis community, government and Habitat for Humanity is a significant development as it will provide much-needed affordable housing for Winnipeg’s low-income working Métis families,” said Sandy Hopkins, CEO of Habitat for Humanity Winnipeg. “By combining the money the federal and provincial governments have designated for aboriginal housing and Habitat’s fund-raising ability, we will construct new energy-efficient homes and allow 10 Métis families an opportunity for home ownership.  

“The mortgage payments made by these 10 households will be directed to the building of future Habitat homes for Métis families and will help Métis people well into the future,” Hopkins added.

 Funding for this initiative comes from HOMEWorks, a $104.5-million fund targeting homes for low-income Manitobans and is part of the larger $188-million Housing First program announced in 2007.  HOMEWorks builds on other initiatives such as the Winnipeg Housing and Homelessness Initiative.  HOMEWorks  focuses on inner-city revitalization including housing for refugees and immigrants, older Manitobans, urban Aboriginals, northern Manitobans and those who are homeless.

“Having Métis parents and children secure in their own home will bring tremendous benefits to the families as well as societal benefits to the community at large,” said Ron Chartrand, president of the Winnipeg Métis Association and vice-president of the MMF Winnipeg Region. “We are equally excited about the prospects of passing on building trade skills to our youth.”

Habitat for Humanity has built more than 150 homes in Winnipeg since 1987. Participants will be selected by Habitat for Humanity in conjunction with the Winnipeg Métis Association and will be required to complete 350 to 500 hours of sweat equity.  

It’s expected that construction on the first five homes will start in April 2009.

The Manitoba Real Estate Association in conjunction with the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs has embarked upon a similar pilot housing program called Tipi Mitawa (My Home). The main difference between the two programs is that Tipi Mitawa is not geared toward the purchase of new homes, but assists aboriginal off-reserve residents to purchase existing homes valued up to $180,000 in neighbourhoods of their choice. Successful applicants receive down payment assistance of $15,000 from MREA and the federal government, which also provides additional funding for mortgage assistance. The home buyers must have an annual income between $25,000 and $50,000 and be able to make monthly mortgage payments.

Five aboriginal families living in Winnipeg have been selected for the first  homes to be purchased under the program. The goal is to eventually provide assistance for the purchase of another 35 homes.

Métis wanting to take part in the Een Dah Aung program can call 204-589-4327 for application and contact information.