Published by Sarah Law, CBC News Thunder Bay on August 30, 2023

Thunder Bay, Ont.’s plans for more affordable housing for Indigenous people took a big step forward this week as two levels of government have promised funding for a pair of developments that have been in the works for years.

Provincial Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark joined federal Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu on Monday to announce both governments are spending nearly $4 million combined on 24 affordable units on Huron Avenue. Clark also pledged nearly $9 million in provincial funding for 58 transitional housing units on Junot Avenue.

Both projects, which are for Indigenous people in urban areas, are being led by Ontario Aboriginal Housing Services (OAHS).

Thunder Bay’s new transitional units will be for people ages 18 to 29. Of the 58 units, 28 will be high-needs supportive units and the remaining 30 will be for youth transitioning to long-term tenancies. Managed by the Thunder Bay Indigenous Friendship Centre, the three-storey building will include single and pod-style rooms, a communal kitchen, 24-hour youth workers and full-time case managers offering wraparound support.

Of the 24 affordable units on Huron Avenue, 20 per cent will be fully accessible. Each will have a dedicated parking space. The long-term goal is to have up to 70 units on the property, pending additional funding.

Cathy Connor, director of housing for OAHS, said it’s anticipated construction will start this fall and could take between 16 and 18 months to complete. Grand openings at both locations are tentatively slated for February or March 2025.

Projects like these make a big difference in providing culturally sensitive supports, Connor said.

“We know the for Indigenous, by Indigenous approach is instrumental to the success of being able to have our tenants in supportive housing be successful and to move on to long-term tenancies,” she told CBC News in an interview Tuesday.

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