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New affordable homes coming for First Nations in Merritt

December 15, 2023 at 12:20 pm  BC, News, Politics, Provincial

First Nations families, elders and youth in Merritt will have access to more affordable rental homes, with construction underway on a 52-unit development.

“People thrive when they can live in the community they know, close to their family and friends,” said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Housing. “Our government is proud to support the Nicola Bands to build housing in their communities. These 52 new homes will play a key role in helping many elders, youth and families build good lives, and we will continue to work with Indigenous partners to build on- and off-reserve housing.”  

The new four-storey building, located at 2640 Spring Bank Ave., will help address the housing needs for First Nations community members from five Nicola Bands: Upper Nicola Band, Lower Nicola Indian Band, Coldwater Indian Band, Nooaitch Indian Band and Shackan Indian Band. It will feature a mix of studio and one-, two- and three-bedroom units. Thirty-six of the 52 units will either be accessible or adaptable to accommodate current and changing accessibility needs. Each unit will have a private balcony.

The Nicola Native Lodge Society is providing the land for the project and will manage the housing. The development will accommodate intergenerational living, such as elders and youth in the same building, which is aligned with the society’s vision for culturally safe housing. The building will also feature an amenity space for social gatherings and cultural ceremonies.

Construction is expected to be completed by spring 2025.

This project is part of a $19-billion housing investment by the B.C. government. Since 2017, the Province has more than 77,000 homes delivered or underway, including approximately 170 homes in Merritt.

Quotes:

Arnie Lampreau, Chief, Shackan Indian Band

“This project was a dream of many of our Nlaka’pamux Elders and leaders, many of whom have passed away and never saw the dream become a reality. The thought of going outside Nicola Valley was one of the fears of our people. This is a chance for the future people to retire and have a safe place to live.”

Stuart Jackson, Chief, Lower Nicola Indian Band –

“It is with great pleasure that this project has come to fruition. Housing shortages are a crisis in our communities and this project will help alleviate some of these challenges. I raise my hands to all the people behind the scenes who turned this dream into a reality. Huxme’l knee.”

Sharon Stone, board director, Shackan Indian Band

“We recognize housing has an impact on many First Nations people. We need a place to call home, a sense of belonging, a sense of identity to be grounded to, and walk among the living plants, trees, rocks and water. Once we feel this, we will be at peace with ourselves, family and connected to one another.”

Sean Fraser, federal Minister of Housing, Infrastructure and Communities –

“Every Canadian deserves a safe and affordable place to call home. This investment in 52 new rental homes will provide safety, stability and accessibility for the Indigenous residents of Merritt, while also giving them a culturally appropriate space to grow and succeed with the members of their community. Through projects such as this, our National Housing Strategy is helping to create a more inclusive society across Canada.”

John Aldag, Member of Parliament for Cloverdale-Langley City –

“Investing in affordable housing is more important than ever. Through the partnership with the Government of British Columbia, people of all ages will have access to housing, so they can live in these communities. This project announced today is just one example of what we can achieve with our partners. I look forward to the completion of these housing projects and the positive impact it will have in our community.”

Michael Goetz, mayor of Merritt –

“We are thrilled to welcome such a distinctive and inclusive affordable housing project like the Spring Bank multi-unit development within our community. This project will not only bring much needed housing to the community, but it will also bring us one step closer to building a more integrated and supportive community that embraces our diverse cultures and honours the spirit of reconciliation.”

Quick Facts:

  • The Province, through BC Housing, is contributing approximately $10 million to the project through the Building BC: Indigenous Housing Fund.  
  • A joint contribution of approximately $1.3 million, through the Canada-British Columbia Bilateral Agreement under the National Housing Strategy, also went toward the project.
  • Budget 2023 added approximately $1.3 billion to the Indigenous Housing Fund, for a total of approximately $1.8 billion to build 3,500 units of social housing for Indigenous Peoples on and off reserve.
  • Canada’s National Housing Strategy is a 10-year, $82-plus billion plan that will give more people in Canada a place to call home.  

Learn More:

To learn about B.C.’s new Homes for People action plan, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2023HOUS0019-000436

To learn about the steps the Province is taking to tackle the housing crisis and deliver affordable homes for people in British Columbia, visit: https://strongerbc.gov.bc.ca/housing/

To find out about the National Housing Strategy, visit: https://www.placetocallhome.ca/

For information about Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, visit: https://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/

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