What we heard about housing 2017-2019
The summaries below present an overview of comments received from First Nations and their representative organizations, technical groups and other interested parties participants during engagement sessions on housing. Their content is based on summaries of proceedings prepared by the event facilitators and organizers that were sent to participants, and which presented the views and opinions of participants recorded during the engagement sessions.
- Blackfoot Confederacy: Edmonton, Alberta, July 24 to 27, 2017
- Southern Chiefs Organization: Winnipeg, Manitoba, September 27, 2017
- Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations: Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, September 28 to 29, 2017
- Council of Yukon First Nations: Whitehorse, Yukon, November 8 to 9, 2017
- Assembly of First Nations Québec-Labrador: Trois-Rivières, Quebec, November 30, 2017
- Atlantic Policy Congress: Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, February 21, 2018
- Native Women's Association of Canada: Ottawa, Ontario, March 9, 2018
- Roundtable discussion on On-Reserve Housing with First Nations housing experts: Ottawa, Ontario, March 20 to 21, 2018
- Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak: Thompson, Manitoba, April 10 to 11, 2018
Blackfoot Confederacy: Edmonton, Alberta, July 24 to 27, 2017
Alberta First Nations seek to work with the Government of Canada to develop a new regionally driven Indigenous housing policy and program framework. The current federal government housing program and system framework is not working for the Alberta First Nations, program tweaks and stop gap measures are not addressing the issues, and will no longer be acceptable to the Blackfoot Confederacy moving forward.
Skills and capacity
- Calls for the development of a First Nation-led housing organization that handles housing and allows for the opportunity to provide education.
- There are currently no resources to attract, train or retain competent/qualified staff and contractors, or to implement plans and policies.
Funding and finance
- Funding is inadequate:
- Limited funding creates competition amongst communities.
- Outdated formulas do not reflect longer term plans for housing in communities, and are not transparent.
- Funding needs to be allocated one to three years in advance to allow for proper planning.
- Calls for the development of a First Nation-led housing organization that handles housing and allows for the opportunity to provide education.
- Lack of support for rental policies from community members, and no time to educate members.
- Capacity development support needs to be designed by First Nations, not the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation or the First Nation Market Housing Fund.
- Calls for a housing database management system to inform decision-making.
Right to shelter
- Treaties are considered to be the foundation of First Nations' relationship with Canada, and will continue to be an important part in moving towards reconciliation, respect and understanding in this area.
- There are too many stakeholders delivering federal housing programming, leading to unnecessary complications.
- There is a lack of engagement and communication from the Government of Canada.
- First Nations must agree with policy language and its interpretation so that bureaucrats cannot change the rules midstream.
Supporting First Nation economies
- Alberta First Nations are working diligently to build economies that will support job creation and community sustainability.
- The Government of Canada needs to change its focus from recovering payments for banks to reconciling and supporting sustainable community development.
Southern Chiefs Organization: Winnipeg, Manitoba, September 27, 2017
Participants highlighted the need for housing planning to be integrated into community planning as a best practice to promote sustainability. Additionally, participants outlined the need to transition towards green energy and building materials as well as highlighting interest in socially and culturally appropriate community planning and housing designs.
Governance and institutions
- Participants considered that First Nations should be responsible for their own housing institutions and programs to be governed under rules and regulations determined at the community level.
- Participants stated that housing policies may be developed at the regional or aggregate level.
- Ensure that community members are educated on financial responsibility as a path towards homeownership.
- Resources which were noted as important for developing skills and capacity include education, resources, personnel and self-governance amongst others.
Operation and management
- Participants noted that unnecessary reporting is a burden and a source of complaints regarding the operation and management of on-reserve housing programs.
- Reporting requirements place a strain on financial resources and housing managers.
- Additionally, participants noted inconsistencies between regions in reporting expectations which contributed towards confusion and stated that federal programming should focus primarily on outcomes and less on reporting required inputs.
- Participants identified insufficient funding by federal authorities as the main cause of the housing crisis in southern Manitoba communities.
- The rigidity of funding methods for housing programming was also identified.
Construction and repairs
- Participants stated that the need to build houses and repair the current inventory represents an opportunity for Indigenous communities to create local jobs and accelerate a transition towards greener housing.
- Participants stated that housing construction and repair programs need to be more flexible in timing and funding.
- Communities would benefit from the greater use of local construction material by seeing a reduction in housing costs as well as increased employment opportunities.
- Material utilized needs to fit the conditions of the physical environment where houses are built to prevent issues such as mould.
Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations: Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, September 28 to 29, 2017
The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations has stated that solutions must be applicable to First Nations both on and off reserve. Solutions would seek to be centered on self-governance, homeownership and build upon inherent and treaty rights.
Skills and capacity
- Encourage effective communications and networking opportunities:
- use newsletters to share success stories from various communities
- develop a list of companies that provide training
- Targeted and specific funding for skills and capacity development centered on:
- cultural sensitivity training
- gender and youth involvement
- Educate community members that financial responsibility is a path towards homeownership.
- Resources are important for developing skills and capacity. For example, education, personnel and self-governance.
Funding and finance
- Funding and finance are integral to the delivery and implementation of housing reform. Self-governance is the transfer of funding, control oversight of housing and related infrastructure to First Nations.
- The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations housing commission may form the basis of a regional housing authority, which would respect regional differences and provide a mechanism for a monetized government transfer model rather than a cash-based model.
- Financial support for homeownership options for different types of housing on and off reserve.
- For the Government of Canada to address insurance premiums on reserve for fire and flooding.
- The future of housing will be driven by self-governance, where power structures shift to communities, and political influence in the management and enforcement of housing policies is removed.
- Developing community planning from the bottom up drives strong policies and leads to long-term quality housing options for First Nations members both on and off reserve.
- Programming to support innovation, green and sustainable builds, both in the short and long term. For example:
- alternative energy initiatives (wind, geothermal, etc.)
- building materials (straw bales, recycled plastic, etc.)
- housing solutions (including cooperative housing, tiny homes, etc.)
- The proposal process does not work. There is a need for greater understanding of what the community needs, not how needs fit for the proposals. There is no use for government because federal controls contribute to the problem, not the solution, as First Nations are being programmed at, rather than for.
- The government must be prepared to take on new nation-to-nation relationships, with a regular dialogue. The government needs to speed up this change.
- To escape this, First Nations to develop own source revenue, reform should be looking how to implement governance strategies, human resource policies and committees differently.
Council of Yukon First Nations: Whitehorse, Yukon, November 8 to 9, 2017
The participants of this engagement are calling for systematic change in the Government of Canada's housing programming to account for the housing realities in the Indigenous communities and historical realities that led to the present day community development challenges. It is recommended that the process be kept simple and direct, allowing for care and control to be practiced at the First Nation level. Yukon First Nations feel strongly that an Indigenous and regional approach must be taken when developing a housing institutional model. However, they also feel that the Government of Canada still has a responsibility and, therefore, this model should be based on providing capacity development support. Participants felt that a national approach is too big, burdensome and bureaucratic to address capacity development concerns at a regional level.
Skills and capacity
- Address immediate health and safety risk, developing governance and management frameworks, consulting and educating members, planning and construction management, making applications/proposals, reporting and the list goes on and on.
- The lack of human resources and capacity available to carry it all out makes it difficult to adapt to a mainstream housing model at the community level. Existing capacity-building service providers do not understand the extent of these challenges and continue to provide support for their models and outcomes specific to their mandate, but that do not address First Nations' needs.
- There is limited communication and contact with federal government housing service providers and the fact that decisions are being made outside of the Yukon region (Ottawa, Edmonton) is troubling because there is no confidence that the unique features of First Nation housing in the territory is understood.
- General lack of community and cultural understanding for the realities of the community, housing challenges and the innovation required to address these issues.
- Commit to supporting a good asset management system and associated policy and framework development tools to assist First Nations to design their own systems that are accepted by the members of the community and align with traditional design, practices and values.
- Participants feel that the regions are more familiar and have a greater understanding of the basis of issues giving them the advantage to delivering programs and services that are tailored to meet territorial challenges. There would be a greater opportunity to form relationships and partnerships using a regional approach such as facilitating purchasing power, and sharing best practices, technical and human resources.
Funding and finance
- Shortage of available financial resources and funding mechanisms to meet current and outstanding housing needs.
- Capital funding is not sufficient and creates pressures with competing needs to increase housing inventory to meet population needs or maintain and repair existing housing.
- The lack of available resources to fix an imposed system is a national issue amongst First Nations. More federal investment is required in community development.
- Both self-governing First Nations and Indian Act bands are concerned with the long-term financial risks and social liabilities of entering into mortgage arrangements for social or market housing programs. First Nations in the region report that it is difficult to implement a mainstream model because community members do not support this model nor do they take into account the human factor that is the reality in communities.
- Funding programs for housing are targeted, dictated by federal institutional mandates, and lack flexibility for the First Nations to address housing priorities holistically and sustainably.
- Targeted funding is restrictive and does not address the community's actual housing needs but rather provides only band aid solutions to satisfy corporate targets and/or government reporting.
- Targeted funding does not allow for carry overs into following fiscal years, compelling First Nations to meet frenzied and sometimes unrealistic timeline expectations that results in poor construction to avoid claw backs.
- Self-governing First Nations have limited access to the federal funding programs created and designed for Indian Act bands. Therefore, fewer pots of money are accessible for their unique status. The lands for self-governing First Nations are held under Aboriginal Title, and federal housing programs have not progressed to meet this new model.
- Review access and eligibility for existing programs (for example, rehabilitation, repairs) and ensure that the northern context is considered as part of initiatives to build and mobilize local building expertise and capacity.
- Review the approvals process, limitations in program requirements (for example, construction timelines, funding roll-out, and eligible access to credit such as the First Nations Market Housing Fund).
- Improve the allocation system. Transparency is required by the Government of Canada. Allocation activities should include First Nation representation and should be based on a formula that accounts for population, location, health and safety factors as well as product and people indicators.
- Consider one funding door to streamline the process and provide block or multi-year funding agreements to allow the flexibility for the community to perform the work when they feel it is feasible.
- Funding should be predictable and built on a housing plan that is based on reality and innovation to allow for better managed facilities and the ability to service changing population demographics.
- Yukon First Nations are requesting an investment of $100M over the next 3 years to be utilized on lands under the Indian Act, lands set aside and those with Aboriginal Title.
- Any funding programs should be regionally driven and placed in the care and control of the First Nations to determine the design of their projects (framework and construction).
- The use of these funds should be left to the discretion of the First Nations to invest in repairs, new construction and framework development as per their identified priorities.
- The option of debt financing should be left to the discretion of each First Nation and not programmed into the existing service providers, such as the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.
- Funding should be able to be accrued to the next fiscal year if necessary to avoid clawback threats and to allow First Nations to practice care and control in alignment with their building and project seasons and timelines.
- The reporting mechanisms for these funds should be conducted through year-end audits and final inspection reports where applicable.
- The Yukon First Nations recommend a simplified regional funding model be explored that is based on a formula whereby 50% of the regional budget is divided equally amongst the First Nations. The remaining 50% of the budget would be divided based on population per capita (30%) and factors for remoteness (20%). The Yukon First Nations would like attention placed on the characteristics of the Northern Trust fund, which is a model that has proved to work well in the communities.
- The Yukon First Nations support eliminating the bureaucratic red tape, streamlining the funding process, duplicating services and alleviating the extensive operating costs by the Government of Canada stakeholders delivering First Nation housing programs.
- The following roles have been recommended to ensure First Nations are granted the care and control desired and aligned with principles of self-determination and the United Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
- Indigenous Services Canada should play a facilitator role in funding delivery and monitoring.
- Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation should play a technical advisory role, if any, for engineering and planning support.
- Redirect federal operating costs to be used on improving living conditions in the communities
- It is recommended that the system should explore moving towards the development and devolution of all funding services to a First Nation treasury board.
- First Nations reported that high unemployment rates hinder the viability of mortgage arrangements for social or market housing programs as well as shelter allowance policies that are not harmonized with costs associated to operate rental housing projects. This approach also provides limited incentive for citizens residing in these projects to maintain or repair homes.
- It is difficult to enforce evictions due to a variety of factors including family and clan connections which create additional challenges in meeting expectations, and will eventually foster homelessness and more overcrowding scenarios which only compound the problems.
- Programs and investment should be outcome-focused rather than program-focused.
- Programs have too many reporting requirements. Streamline all reporting through audits and final inspection reports. Funders can provide this direction to auditors.
Assembly of First Nations Québec-Labrador: Trois-Rivières, Quebec, November 30, 2017
The following was established through discussions with participants.
Skills and capacity
- Training for policy makers, senior management, owners and members.
- There are language-related challenges that are perceived as obstacles.
- Institutions must be regional rather than national.
- The organization must be able to award certifications to better recognize the building manager's work (for example, college certification).
- Building managers have too many duties to perform.
- First Nations encounter challenges in the development of their abilities.
- Management and maintenance are key competency areas that should be prioritized.
- Future ability development support organization should be put in place at the regional level.
Funding and financial management
- Access to financing tools and capital that do not have restrictions on First Nations (for example, ABSCAN).
- Elimination of Ministerial Loan Guarantees.
- More funding is required.
- Provincial funding.
- Resource revenue sharing.
- First Nations want significant changes done to housing and infrastructure policies and programs. They specifically seek more funding options, a long-term government commitment and new partnerships.
Governance and service delivery
- Do not replace bureaucracy with more bureaucracy.
- Separate politics from administration.
- Collaborate, network, share resources, and break isolation.
- The allocation of funds is a contentious issue because funds are limited. Each dollar that is received from a grant is important. Communities may feel like they are competing for funds.
- Reluctance to go too fast in the process. Implement a process that leads to a solution from an upward community level.
- Governance requires standardized approaches, tools and models.
- The development of new programs and options, planning, management support and networking are areas of responsibility to be favoured by First Nations organizations.
- Expectations for funding (more options, more funding) were also clearly expressed under this theme.
- Increase in the individual responsibilities of the occupants of the housing in question, whether they are tenants or owners of the housing (payment of rent, loan repayment, maintenance, home insurance, etc.).
- More financing options (bonds, revolving credit fund, equity, loans, etc.).
- Demographic considerations in creating appropriate housing to suit the lifestyle of people living in houses.
- A significant increase and commitment in terms of long-term funding to support housing revitalization.
- Mentoring and opportunities for youth and all members to actively participate in the development of new housing and the construction, operation and administration of these new community assets.
- Innovation is an aspect that must be pervasive in all aspects of housing and infrastructure reform. First Nations want capacity building, funding, financial management, governance, and service delivery preferences to translate into new ways of doing things and innovative approaches.
The region's expectations in housing and infrastructure reform can be summarized as follows:
- Skills and abilities: Develop skills and enhance abilities at all levels through innovative means.
- Funding and financial management: Increase funds and financing options through innovative means.
- Governance and service delivery: Increase First Nations self-reliance through innovative means.
Atlantic Policy Congress: Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, February 21, 2018
Participants discussed the need for more tangible outcomes and more focus on the short term for housing needs. A shift towards independence would be a source of pride. Participants are looking for more control over jurisdictions, more partnerships across government departments and learning from what already works in the field. There is also a desire to discuss housing and find solutions at a community level. Importance of looking at gaps in programs to better understand so that funding can reach everyone.
- There is a large young population with growing families, however, lower-income levels and overcrowding persist and this limits options and access to housing.
- Need the proper data to show population growth and other influences on housing needs and for planning.
- Look at children first as indicators of change.
- Avoiding political interference in housing.
- Establishing clear responsibilities between tenants and bands.
- Support to improve social media.
- Increased transparency from the Government of Canada.
Skills and capacity
- Local trades people are needed – inspection, construction.
- Well-staffed housing with better wages.
- Community level housing management expertise and training.
- Incentives to take better care of homes for occupants.
- Prioritizing, maintenance, renovations, new construction and ways to address overcrowding
- Older houses means costs are even more elevated to adhere to present-day codes while also costs for repairs are more frequent.
- Need to renegotiate funding to meet needs, and to get better outcomes for investments.
- Establishing a sense of ownership, with high unemployment rate, band members cannot pay their own mortgages. There is dependence on federal funds and bands.
- Staffing and administrative costs to work in housing, including people, materials, overhead and supplies.
- Mortgage: renewals and ongoing payments. Extra costs of mortgage rate increases.
Education and training
- Educating our community members in home maintenance, but also education for trades for building construction and inspection.
- More education on basic life skills and trauma education.
- More incentive for maintenance and tenant responsibility.
- Understanding social housing versus home ownership.
Native Women's Association of Canada: Ottawa, Ontario, March 9, 2018
The preliminary research report generated to support the housing engagement viewed housing as a basic human right demonstrated in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The housing-first model and recognizing the need for a holistic approach were brought up as methods to address housing requirements. Poverty, low educational attainment, high unemployment, food insecurity, poor health, and other negative outcomes correlate with a lack of access to housing. Women face additional barriers in securing housing and employment including family violence, gendered and racialized discrimination, and homelessness: they are generally the primary caregivers.
- Consider the unique needs of specific population groups.
- Strong collaborative partnerships are essential to best serve the community.
- Housing should be centered on community supports such as child care, public transit, trauma-informed counselling, health clinics, employment services and opportunities.
Skills and capacity
- Use of local materials and labour.
- Create opportunities for self-reliance, and social integration. Community participation supports people in housing sustainment.
- Communities which are closer to urban centres or along major highways have greater opportunities for employment and economic development.
- Where the community has own-source revenue and high employment levels, the housing is more likely to resemble what is considered to be adequate housing in the rest of Canada.
Funding and finance
- Calls for funding as well as social and technical resources.
- Communities are strengthened socially and economically when all people are safely and securely housed.
Education and training
- Engage and involve Indigenous women in the development and implementation of housing and shelter strategies in their respective communities.
- Continuous learning and improvement, which includes evidence-based best practices, is necessary.
Addressing needs of Indigenous women relating to housing
- Any attempt to address the disparity in housing conditions in Indigenous communities must also address issues of socio-economic inequality and insecurity, particularly for Indigenous women and girls.
- Prioritize housing for women leaving situations of family and intimate partner violence, especially those with children or other dependants.
- Ensure that community infrastructure supports safe neighborhoods. For example, streetlights, and availability of public transportation.
- Situate women's housing around the services and supports they access. For example, employment opportunities, childcare, and counselling.
- Ensure housing is responsive to the needs of the people it was designed to support. For example, homes that are accessible for those with mobility issues.
- Provide resources for women to assist them in securing permanent, stable housing. For example, educational materials on landlord/tenant rights and obligations.
- Limit energy consumption and building in a sustainable, intentional way.
Roundtable discussion on On-Reserve Housing with First Nations housing experts: Ottawa, Ontario, March 20 to 21, 2018
Housing technicians with extensive experience from regions south of the 60th parallel participated in a two-day facilitated event to seek out recommendations through a technical dialogue, focusing on the needs of housing managers and technicians in delivering housing programs and services to First Nations on reserve. The two-day session focused on two key issues related to the future delivery of housing and infrastructure in First Nations: governance and skills, and capacity development.
- Participants expressed their trust in government changes. Momentum cannot be lost.
- Dialogue with technical professionals is invaluable. While it does not supersede political negotiations, both are key to developing housing reform.
- Meetings with technicians might be more valuable at the regional level, with greater collaboration between Indigenous Services Canada, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and their regional offices in terms of service delivery and data sharing.
- Also, further engagement has to be conducted, specific to target audiences such as tribal councils, youth, occupants, leadership.
Skills and capacity
- Support the on-reserve housing profession through dedicated funding to their positions, existing skills and capacity initiatives and support for their professional networks, making them more widely available to all on reserve housing professionals.
- Invest in the skills and capacity initiatives that are currently operational, and that are resonating and contributing to success among housing and infrastructure professionals.
- Ensure that skills and capacity training is made available to leadership and senior officials to provide a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities, and operational requirements related to community housing. They should also be made aware of how their decisions affect the overall management success of the community housing system.
- Occupant skills and capacity development will be a key contributor to ensure long-term sustainability of the housing stock and ensure the life cycle expectations occur. Embrace occupant empowerment initiatives that increase skills to effectively operate and maintain the housing systems through their life cycle. Eventually contributing to a paradigm shift in the communities based on individual pride in the long-term protection of a housing asset for their future generations.
- Skills are not missing in many cases, but opportunities for professional development are.
- Beyond training, key instruments leading to actions are missing. A First Nations' community cannot wait to have all the know-how to try something innovative. Firstly, actions can be limited in scope to demonstrate proof-of-concept and possible replicability in other communities.
- Programs to train the trainers in the housing field would be key for the future (succession plans).
- Educating youth on housing from elementary school through to university (including internship programs) will provide professionalization of the housing field.
- Some communities cannot afford a housing manager, so no skills and capacity development tools are being used in the communities which likely need it most.
- The creation of a physical national centre of excellence to deliver the training and capacity required across Canada, in regions and locally. Support regional organizations to support and expand on this, and utilize the experiences from successful organizations.
- Successful governance structures that meet the critical needs of the community and are universally accepted by Indigenous groups must be replicated and featured as viable options.
- Data collection is a pre-cursor to strong governance.
- Culturally adapted policies are required to manage a high demand and a low supply of housing.
- Housing agreements are currently signed with chief and councils, who are then accountable/responsible (as per federal government requirements). Housing should not be politicized.
- Reporting should be annual and based on plans versus the ad-hoc proposal system in place.
- One key element to ensure a separation from politics is the implementation of mechanisms that promote accountability, and have an impact on community members (buy-in, involved and interested).
- Chiefs are often in vulnerable positions locally and receive pressures to adapt/modify procedures previously approved.
- There are imperfect policies, but it is understood by communities that these are better than any perfect document that would be unusable locally.
General comments of interest:
- Since the 1970s, First Nations have proven that, when given the opportunity, they have good credit.
- British Columbia is developing a school curriculum to educate future tenants and homeowners.
- It is unfair and unrealistic to ask First Nations communities to back assets for all of their communities. No other levels of government could do it.
- As per the 2015 Standing Senate Committee report on Indigenous Housing, costs related to housing increased by 16% while government contributions increased by 4%, which results in great strains on communities, especially those with high birth rates.
- A one-size-fits-all approach is not acceptable for housing programs nor would 600 independent versions of housing programs (for the 634 First Nations) be sustainable.
- A critical mass of population is required to develop and implement policies.
- Housing managers are an example of First Nations in general. They are often in a state of hypervigilance (which is expecting an imminent catastrophe). There was consensus that despite the insurmountable challenges, they can't stop trying; their communities rely on them.
- Implementing a universal rental regime is delicate. Beyond respecting the treaty rights argument, it would be a guaranteed failure to ask a community member to start paying rent if that member is not getting more than what he is getting for free at the moment.
- For many communities, constructing to a new Building Code will increase costs by 30% starting this year.
Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak: Thompson, Manitoba, April 10 to 11, 2018
Housing reform needs to be founded on First Nation language, culture, tradition and land. Educate First Nation communities on federal housing processes, including Indigenous Services Canada and Canada Mortgage Housing Corporation programming to help build capacity and transition to First Nation care, control and management of housing. Solutions seek to be centered on self-governance, engaging First Nations at the community level and making sure that homes are going to those most in need. First Nations spoke of looking at new housing models that have locally sourced materials and are energy efficient, as well as considering new funding models to increase community capacity.
- Indigenous care, control and management of housing: First Nations need to be involved in the housing process.
- Goal is to attain reasonable comparable services with First Nations, provinces and the Government of Canada working in partnership, including resource sharing.
- In the long term, housing should be allocated to families with children, then singles, then transient with the end goal for everyone to have a home.
- There is a need for a national housing body to work nation-to-nation.
- The importance of First Nations to take control (for example, through good and healthy self-government), healing (for example, residential schools, sexual abuse, substance abuse, etc.), regaining identity through culture and language, and creating community.
- Best practices to mobilize and expand:
- housing manager
- housing committee
- housing authority
- housing maintenance (for example, tenant relations, agreements)
- database for every home
- build capacity and skills
- updated community infrastructure needs/service lots
- develop terms of reference, clarifying roles and responsibilities
- ensure federal departments are working well together
- network of housing managers
- accountable to council and the band
- building code knowledge for housing managers
- involve tenants
- Change in roles/responsibilities:
- First Nation culture versus a corporate approach
- access to funding
- rent for maintenance
- ownership responsibility
- maintenance planning
- disability and elders plan
- Tribal Council expand and renew mandate with respect to housing
- devolve funding to First Nations
- awareness of policies/local accountability
- fire safety equipment
- expedite change
- include student housing, long-term facilities for medical purposes
- Need for First Nations institutions:
- ensure treaty rights to shelter and housing are considered
- engaging elders from the beginning and throughout
- support for First Nation technical experts (agreements, building code, inspectors, First Nation business, housing materials)
- move away from the Indian Act
- local First Nations take over renovations programming
- Need alternative financing; design own homes; share information on vendors; address poor installation of Infrastructure (e.g., septic systems); retrofit existing homes; support local First Nation businesses; and transparency in the bidding process.
Skills and capacity
- Mobilize skills and personnel.
- Think beyond existing legislative, programming and policy constraints.
- The strength of coming together (threshold of community involvement to drive change and to pool purchasing power).
- Work to highlight: true costs, research and data, governance, engagement, and build a strategic plan (short, medium, long terms) and options to start a transition process.
- Next steps:
- understand true costs of housing (data gathering exercise)
- determine capacity and skills requirements
- institutional development roles and responsibilities
- finalize terms of the working group to build and adapt the housing framework into a strategy
- develop table of contents
- develop template for data gathering
- people (trained and available)
- election timelines (Indigenous, federal, and provincial)
- quality of work
- community involvement
- personnel turnover in housing department
- education of occupants
- don't have land/usable land
- outdated policies/not implemented
- lack of infrastructure
- leadership not prioritizing housing
- Engage locally at all levels (community engagement, sessions, workshops, schools, education, newsletters, radio, and follow up with tenants). Interested in understanding the federal government process at a community level so to inform future transition/capacity building of First Nation.
- Changes to laws/policies/programs:
- no operations and maintenance
- no funding policy/legislation regarding expenditures
- land use management/zoning
- govern by First Nation law
- fiscal relations
- housing authorities
- rent collection
- government standards on builds
- reflect needs ( reflecting actual costs in the north - outdated funding formula, index to inflation)
- restrictions of Indian Act
- no consultation on programs/policies
- insufficient time to apply
- tenant participation in building house and community involvement
Funding and financing
- New funding models and to increase capacity.
- Predictable/stable funding flowing directly to First Nations.
- Forgivable loans; promote youth builds; First Nation Financial Authority; First Nation Management Board; Mini/log/row/C-can housing (alternatives); support for disabilities and medical; remove fiscal year challenges; and habitat for humanity/other foundations.
Education and training
- Build saw mills with grading experts; develop policies to govern homeownership; separate housing committee from leadership; develop "how to" building models (homes and types – for example, architectural catalog and how to build instructions); create oversight committee.
- Need to educate the public about housing realities.
- CMHC social housing does not reflect the high costs of living in the North. It can be a challenge to make rent annual shortfall in base funding.
- Harvest raw materials/locally sourced; planning/where to site; certified trades, engineers, energy production.
- New course work on energy efficiency.
- Green incentives (solar, geothermal).