Nova Scotia

Housing cost increase worries Membertou band member

A band member from the Membertou First Nation in Cape Breton says he's upset about a proposal that may see some people making mortgage payments that are more than double what they've been paying to date.

Chief says band council trying to keep costs down

A band member from the Membertou First Nation in Cape Breton says he's upset about a proposal that may see some people making mortgage payments that are more than double what they've been paying to date.

Simon Marshall, who currently lives off-reserve, has children in Membertou. He said most people on the reserve pay mortgages of $250 per month.

He's concerned about a new proposal from the Membertou chief and band council that asks people to make monthly payments of $600.

"The cost of living, it's too big of a jump," said Marshall.

"You can see something that's one per cent, two per cent, five per cent. But the percentage is too high."

Traditionally, the Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation and Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada subsidize a certain number of houses each year.

Chief Terry Paul said the mortgages are subsidized and Membertou has pegged householder payments at $250 per month. Those payments are not going up, he said.

Paul said Membertou had three new homes subsidized this year through the Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation, and that's not enough new subsidized houses to meet the community's needs.

The band council plans to build houses under its own program, in concert with the First Nations Market Housing Fund.

"A house that costs on average about $140,000, we would get a mortgage on that. The real payment probably would be $1,000 to $1,200," said Paul.

"So we're asking people that want to participate in this housing to put a fair share in. What we believe is a fair share is about $600 a month."

Paul said the plan is to build 125 houses in five years. Some of those houses will be set aside for people on social assistance.

"We believe people that get new houses and pay $600 a month for that, I think it's a really good deal," he said.

Paul said he hasn't heard any other complaints about the new program and has already received several applications.

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