According to the Housing Conditions on Reserve – Results from Phase 2 (2008-10) RHS and Community Survey
50.9% of First Nation adults reported mold and mildew present in their homes
43.5% of adults with asthma and 52% of those with chronic bronchitis are living with mold in their homes.
The Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples study on First Nations Housing and Infrastructure
The Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples conducted a study on the challenges relating to First Nations housing and infrastructure on reserves. An interim report was released February 2015 on what was heard so far. The interim report stated: “What the Committee has heard and seen about housing has been compelling. The poor quality of housing and the overcrowding in many communities is a distressing situation. At the same time, the Committee has been inspired by the innovative approaches taken by creative individuals in so many communities across the country. Indeed, innovation has been where big strides have been made by First Nations—in financing mechanisms, land use, and building materials.”
The final report On-Reserve Housing and Infrastructure: Recommendations for Change was released in June 2015. The AFN and the Chair of the Senate Committee met and agreed to work together to support the 13 recommendations in the report. The overarching recommendation was that Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada remove the 2% cap on annual increases on funding, effective in Budget 2016-2017. In Budget 2016, the Government committed “to lift the 2 per-cent funding cap for First Nations programs and work to establish a new fiscal relationship that gives First Nations communities sufficient, predictable and sustained funding.” Of the 13 recommendations, 8 were for housing and 5 for infrastructure. These recommendations will be considered during the reform engagement meetings.
Housing and Infrastructure Reform
Development of a Sustainable Approach
In fiscal 2016/2017, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) supported several engagements with the CCoHI, the AFN Regional Housing and Infrastructure Technicians and regional organizations, and will support a National infrastructure Reform Forum. The objectives of these meetings and the Forum were to seek input and recommendations on reforming delivery of housing and infrastructure. Focused discussions were planned on how to better manage and deliver programs in housing, water and wastewater and community infrastructure. The Forum also supported, in partnership with First Nations, the identification of sustainable funding needed beyond the short-term (Budget 2016), medium-term (5 years) and long-term (10–20 years).
The Assembly of First Nations continues to look for suitable financing options for First Nations Housing. The key components of any financing model for housing should include.
Access to credit, debt and equity
Improved access to all traditional infrastructure financing mechanisms;
Full capacity support for housing and infrastructure managers with the abilities to implement local housing initiatives;
Knowledge sharing and networking; and
First Nations control.
BMO Bank of Montreal On-Reserve Housing Loan Program
BMO Bank of Montreal is working with First Nations and their members to create on-reserve housing loan programs without federal government assistance. The programs are designed to reflect the specific needs of a First Nation and provide members the opportunity to own their own home through access to housing loans for the construction or purchase of owner-occupied, single family dwellings or to finance major renovations to existing homes.
BMO Bank of Montreal On-Reserve Home Renovation Program
BMO Bank of Montreal has introduced a financing option for First Nations to help their members upgrade existing single family, owner-occupied homes located on First Nation territory. Through access to personal loans from $5,000 to $25,000, on-reserve home renovation loan programs provide eligible borrowers the opportunity to renovate homes to increase energy efficiency and/or create a healthier environment. For more information, please contact your nearest BMO Bank of Montreal branch.
First Nations Market Housing Fund
The First Nations Market Housing Fund is a new and innovative initiative established by the Government of Canada and Canada Mortgage & Housing Corporation to give First Nations members greater access to housing loans on-reserve and on settlement lands. BMO Bank of Montreal is a participating lender for First Nations who qualify for the Fund. For more information visit the First Nations Market Housing Fund at www.fnmhf.ca.
Habitat for Humanity Fredericton and Tobique First Nation
In 2016, Tobique First Nation (TFN) and Habitat Fredericton formalized a partnership through a Memorandum of Understanding. The agreement saw the first ever Habitat home constructed on reserve in Atlantic Canada. This project looked to address overcrowding and the housing deficit, while also including a youth skills training component. This project is currently in progress with a second home breaking ground in the spring of 2017.
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. This project is currently in progress.