Published by Windspeaker on December 14, 2022
By Odette Auger
The National Urban, Rural, Northern Indigenous Housing Coalition is a new group formed to provide ‘for Indigenous by Indigenous’ housing solutions to the national Indigenous housing crisis.
“While there absolutely is a housing crisis on many reserves,” said Biwaanag, Justin Marchand, (Métis), CEO of Ontario Aboriginal Housing Services, “one of the things that’s forgotten is that over 80 per cent of Indigenous people live in urban, rural and northern areas off reserve.”
That’s 1.26 million people, and according to Statistics Canada, 18 per cent of those individuals are in core housing need.
Marchand says the new coalition has reason to believe that’s an underestimation, but even so, 18 per cent “is so much bigger than what is being allocated to address the issue,” said Marchand.
The National housing strategy was launched more than five years ago, he said. While that strategy does have investments for three distinctions-based streams for First Nations, Métis and Inuit, it only serves 20 per cent of Indigenous people.
“We need to make sure that we’re including all people in that national housing strategy, because right now we are not.”
“And nowhere in that national housing strategy does it say that the government is interested in completely eliminating homelessness. So, for us, one person that’s homeless is one person too many,” said Marchand.
“We have to move beyond shelters and sleeping bags and a warm bowl of soup. If we really want to end homelessness, then we have to invest in housing.”