Indigenous Housing Program
Habitat Canada's Indigenous Housing Program partners with Indigenous families and communities to create a safe and decent place to live through affordable homeownership. We also provide skills and training opportunities to Indigenous youth and women to equip them with trade skills they use to maintain and/or create new homes in their communities. With the help of 24 local Habitats across Canada, we’ve built alongside over 150 Indigenous families between 2007 and 2015, including 35 homes on First Nations and Métis settlements and reserves.
By 2020, our goal is to partner with more than 250 Indigenous families under the Indigenous Housing Program and annually provide 200 Indigenous youth and women with skills training opportunities.
Giving Indigenous families a ‘hand up’ through affordable home ownership
Indigenous peoples have a deep spiritual, physical, social and cultural connection to their land, and building homes within Indigenous communities must be undertaken with the support of the community.
To better address the specific challenges facing Indigenous families, Habitat Canada launched its Indigenous Housing Program in 2007 in partnership with Indigenous communities and with the support of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). In 2011, Habitat and the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) signed an agreement with the ultimate goal of increasing First Nations’ involvement in Habitat projects.
Habitat Canada’s Indigenous Housing Program seeks to expand affordable housing options for low-income families both on and off reserve, while also providing skills and training to Indigenous youth and women to equip them with trade skills they can use to maintain or create new homes within their communities.
Housing issues for Indigenous families
Overcrowding, dilapidated housing and general lack of affordability are some of the issues many Canadian Indigenous families face, especially those living on reserves and settlements. By all standards, on reserve shelter options fall short of any measure of adequate and safe housing.
In 2011, half of Indigenous on-reserve households lived in unacceptable housing, and one third lived below one or both of the adequacy and suitability standards and had incomes that were insufficient to meet the costs of acceptable housing. (CMHC, Canadian Housing Observer, 2014). Despite investments by the federal government, housing conditions for Indigenous families are not improving and the problem continues to worsen.
Helping even more Indigenous families
As the program has grown, the impact that the Habitat affordable homeownership model can have on families is increasingly evident. We’re more determined than ever to build partnerships and homes for Indigenous families in need.
The key to our success is partnership and collaboration.
If your community or organization would like to partner with Habitat’s Indigenous Housing Program, please contact Jayshree Thakar, National Manager, Indigenous Housing Program at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Spotlight on Indigenous Housing Program projects
In urban centres:
Habitat and MCHC homes
In 2011, the Métis Capital Housing Corporation (MCHC) determined they would have to sell a number of their rental houses in need of repair in order to generate funds to repair or rebuild others. Habitat for Humanity Edmonton proposed that MCHC partner with Habitat and allow them to renovate the houses and sell them back to low-income Indigenous families through no-interest and geared-to-income mortgages. Rather than decreasing the housing stock available to Indigenous families, this solution offered 10 families with long-term benefits and pride that comes with homeownership. In 2014, a second partnership was successfully undertaken between Habitat Edmonton and MCHC which resulted in homes for three new Métis Habitat homeowners.
In Indigenous communities:
Kikinaw Elders Lodge ‘Our Home’ – In 2016, the Flying Dust First Nation and Habitat for Humanity Lloydminster celebrated the completion of the Kikinaw Elders Lodge, Habitat Canada’s first on-reserve build. The 10-unit accommodation addresses the housing and wellness needs of the elders at Flying Dust, while also addressing the housing continuum problem. In addition to providing appropriate housing for the elders, their previous homes are being retrofitted for younger families and the project creates opportunities for First Nation youth to obtain training and skills in construction. Click here to read more about the project. This project is currently in progress.
Takhini River ‘First House’ – In 2012, Champagne and Aishihik First Nations, near Whitehorse, partnered with Habitat for Humanity Yukon to make affordable homeownership available to more families on their settlement land. A milestone project, this was Habitat’s first build on a First Nations settlement in Canada, making homeownership possible for three low-income First Nations families through a triplex project. This project is completed.
Thank you to Habitat Canada's Indigenous Housing Program's founding partner: