Over the next five years there could be less affordable housing available for Indigenous residents, not just in Sudbury, but across the country.

The Native People of Sudbury Development Corporation owns and operated 95 housing units in Sudbury and 11 in Espanola.

There are operational agreements in place for subsidized rent funded by the federal government.

By 2020 and beyond the mortgages on all their units will start to mature, says the housing agency's executive director, James King-Séguin.

Once that starts to happen the operating agreements for subsidized funding will be terminated.

This already happened to two of the agency`s units in 2013. Because of this, King-Séguin says the development corporation now must ask for current market rental rates at those two sites.

The Native People of Sudbury Development Corporation is calling on the federal government to renew these subsidies so the remainder of its units can remain subsidized housing..

Problem not just in Sudbury

Other housing agencies across the country, that do similar work with Indigenous populations, are also facing the same problem.

"Across Ontario there are approximately 40 other urban native housing groups that are doing similar work," says King-Séguin. He adds there are many more across Canada too.

"It's a national issue that the federal government has to examine, and move on providing the subsidy," he says.

King-Seguin says many of their current tenants just wouldn`t be able to afford higher rent, so once the subsidy agreements are terminated those residents will be forced to move.

However, if the government renews the funding, King-Seguin says the cost to manage the units would be lower. That's because subsidies would no longer need to go towards paying off the mortgage.

"Because the mortgages will be paid up, the subsidies will not have to pay for mortgages. The existing units will be mortgage-free."

Market value rent not an option

King-Seguin says if the government subsidies aren't renewed, the housing agency will have to ask for market value for the rent.

He says many of the tenants don`t have the extra money to pay full market rent for a number of reasons. Some work at low-paying jobs, some are students, some are seniors, while others are on either Ontario Works or the Ontario Disability Support Program.

King-Seguin says the Indigenous population in many Canadian cities is increasing rapidly, as more people move to urban centres from First Nation communities to go to school or seek employment.

This means affordable housing for Indigenous residents will be in higher demand.