British Columbia

First Nations housing should be 'front and centre' of national housing strategy, chief says

Shane Gottfriedson, B.C Regional Chief with the Assembly of First Nations, says First Nations housing should be a priority in Canada's proposed national housing strategy.

Indigenous Canadians suffer poor housing conditions on and off reserves across the country

A house in the First Nations community of Pikangikum in northwestern Ontario highlights concerns that more than 40 per cent of homes on reserves need major repairs, compared with seven per cent outside reserves. (Coleen Rajotte/CBC)

B.C.'s regional chief is calling on the federal government to prioritize First Nations housing in its national housing strategy.

Yesterday the federal government released a report detailing the results of a four-month long national consultation on its proposed national housing strategy.

According to the report the majority of Canadians said the national housing strategy should support those who need affordable housing the most — low income and homeless families and individuals.

Shane Gottfriedson, the B.C. Regional Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, emphasized improving conditions of First Nations housing should be "front and centre" of the new strategy.

Overcrowding, mould and old run-down houses are perennial problems on reserves and Indigenous Canadians are over-represented in the homeless population, he said. 

"One in five Indigenous people who live off-reserve are homeless ... On reserves, [people] experience poorer housing compared to non-Indigenous people," he told Rick Cluff on CBC's The Early Edition.

Assembly of First Nations Chief B.C. Regional Chief Shane Gottfriedson says the federal government should prioritize First Nations housing in its proposed national housing strategy. (CBC)

The federal government has an existing program called the First Nations Market Housing Fund but Gottfriedson said it isn't working well.

"They are geared towards people who can actually afford a mortgage, good for middle-income families who are working. For people who live below the poverty line, it doesn't work … you have to remember, a lot of our people live below the poverty line."

Gottfriedson advocated for more focus on lower-income Indigenous Canadians in the plan and the creation of First Nations housing institutions within cities.

With files from The Early Edition

To listen to the interview, click on the link labelled First Nations Housing should be prioritized in Canada's new national housing strategy chief says