On-reserve aboriginal housing program

WinnipegREALTORS® may have been disappointed that the recent provincial budget missed an

opportunity to get education funding off the backs of property owners (see letspayfair.com for more information), but the association was pleased that there were additional dollars allocated to house people in need. 

Manitoba Family Services and Housing Minister, Gord Mackintosh, announced the addition of $43

million in provincial money to $61.5 million in federal funding. 

Consultations were held in March with housing stakeholders like the Housing Opportunity Partnership (HOP), Spence Neighbourhood Association, North End Housing, West Broadway, Winnipeg Housing Rehabilitation Association, the Manitoba Real Estate Association (developing an exciting off-reserve aboriginal homeownership program) and other housing groups to help the government identify where dollars should be spent in the next few years.

As a result, a new program has been developed called HOMEWorks.  Its priorities include inner-city revitalization, providing housing for older Manitobans, housing for urban aboriginals, housing for northern Manitobans and sheltering the homeless. Go to the

government’s website at www.gov.mb.ca for details on the specific areas of focus and dollars being spent.

Another mid-April housing announcement was made by the federal government that dealt with homeownership possibilities for aboriginals living on reserves. The following article was produced by the Canadian Real Estate Association to explain the program.

Feds launch First Nations Market 

Housing Fund

The federal government announced the creation of a $300-million First Nations Market Housing Fund in mid-April to give First Nations people living on-reserve a better chance to own their own home.

The $300-million investment, initially announced in the 2007 federal budget, is in addition to existing

federal funding of $261 million annually to improve on-reserve housing in all First Nations communities.

“First Nation homeownership is well below the

national average,” said Jim Prentice, the federal Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. “Not enough people living on reserve know the feeling that comes from owning their own home. This approach will support the development of a housing

market on reserve, while fully respecting the communal ownership of reserve land.”

The Canadian Real Estate Association has been encouraging the federal government to support homeownership options on Canadian reserves for several years. In 2006, the association sponsored an aboriginal case study that was presented at World Urban Forum. The study focused on all aspects of aboriginal housing, and included successful models of on-reserve homeownership developed within aboriginal communities. 

The association will be continuing its work on this file as a platinum sponsor of a Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation symposium on aboriginal housing, to be held in Victoria in October. The symposium will

include a session on ways to develop on-reserve market housing.

A market-based approach will increase access to financing for First Nations, enabling more individuals to own or rent their own home on reserves. The government expects that up to 25,000 new housing units over 10 years could be provided through the new fund.

“This innovative approach will improve housing on reserve, increase the housing supply and provide First Nations families and individuals with a means to build equity and generate wealth,” said Monte Solberg, the federal minister responsible for CMHC. 

The federal government said it will engage First Nations communities and financial institutions on implementation of the fund.

“The housing conditions of First Nations are well known and require urgent attention. We will be consulting with our Chiefs as we are anxious to maximize the benefits to all First Nations,” said Assembly of First Nations Yukon Regional Chief Rick O'Brien, co-chair of the Chiefs Committee on Housing. “We welcome the announcement as it’s one important component in an overall solution.”