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November 8, 2023
Scaling up an Indigenous-to-Indigenous housing finance model would get far more homes built where banks won’t go and where Ottawa won’t back loans.
In better times for Canada, when safe, affordable and adequate housing was in far greater supply and taken for granted by most Canadians, First Nations housing was already in deep crisis. From the very creation of reserves, multi-year waitlists for substandard, overcrowded and inadequate housing have been the norm.
The problem has only compounded: increasing numbers of First Nations members are leaving their communities, taking with them the skills and talents needed for economic and social development. The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women has revealed the tragedy of young women risking, and often losing, their lives trying to escape the side effects of dismal housing conditions.
Government housing programs focus primarily on social housing and core shelter needs, with units not built to last, not built for climate emergencies and not even built for energy efficiency. Past efforts have barely made a dent in the growing housing backlog: 130,000 homes are needed over the next 10 years, according to the Assembly of First Nations.