Published on January 25, 2022 by Colin Graf of

“We know that the needs of our communities are greater than today’s investment, but this is a positive step in the right direction.” — Coralee McGuire-Cyrette, executive director of the Ontario Native Women Association.

New funding for Indigenous housing from the Ontario government has left Justin Marchand, Chief Executive Officer of Ontario Aboriginal Housing Services (OAHS), “ecstatic.”

The funding, to be renewed annually, will provide Indigenous-led, culturally appropriate long-term housing solutions and support services to Indigenous people experiencing or at risk of homelessness, reads a government news release.

The money, $7.5 million to OAHS and $2.5 million to Miziwe Biik Development Corporation, which provides housing services in the Greater Toronto Area, will help provide better, safer and secure access to housing for Indigenous people, the release states.

“This is huge for us,” said Marchand. The fact the funding will continue in the future makes the impact of the announcement greater, giving OAHS “that source of stable operating funding which is often a barrier non-profits face,” he explained.

The agency has a mandate to provide safe and affordable housing to urban and rural First Nation, Inuit and Métis people living off-reserve in Ontario. The group’s vision is to lead the design, development and delivery of different forms of housing to meet the needs of clients.

The province has given the agencies a lot of flexibility in how to prioritize and use the money, which is a great help in trying “to really get at what people need,” said Marchand in an interview with “That flexibility is so important.”

The new funding can be used for supportive housing, transitional housing, rent supplements and housing allowances, and help to avoid emergency-based responses like shelters.

The new money can also be used to provide a wide range of wraparound services and supports including hiring mental health and addiction workers, providing harm reduction services, medication assistance, and crisis intervention and prevention services.

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