Racist Kijiji ad a 'timesaver': aboriginal housing company CEO

Robert Byers, president and CEO of Namerind Housing Corporation, says many aboriginal people face racism when trying to find a home.

Namerind Housing Corporation CEO says many aboriginal people face racism in pursuit of housing

This Kijiji ad for a rental home in Prince Albert said "no natives please" was removed after complaints of racism. (Kijiji)

Many people have called a recent Prince Albert Kijiji advertisement racist and offensive, because its writer said they would not consider renting the home to aboriginal people.

But the president and CEO of an aboriginal-owned housing company calls it a "timesaver."

Robert Byers says many aboriginal people face racism when trying to find a rental home. 

"It's frustrating, but it's just something that happens all the time," he said.

Byers recalled a time he went with a friend to view several rental properties.

"The first one we went to they said they had just rented it out," he said. "We looked at each other, 'well, you never know."

"[We] went to the second one and it was just rented and we're like, 'OK, you know what?' and then we just stopped looking."

Byers is the president and CEO Namerind Housing Corporation in Regina. 

They know they're not going to get turned away because of who they are.- Robert Byers, president of Namerind Housing Corporating

It offers affordable and market value housing to everyone, but he says lots of First Nations people feel safe renting from them.

"I think when people come in to our place, they feel more comfortable," Byers told CBC's The Morning Edition. "It's a place that they know they're not going to get turned away because of who they are."

"They'll get turned away because there's no place to live."

A focus on quality rentals

Aboriginal-owned Namerind Housing Corporation provides affordable and market housing to all people.

When Namerind started out a decade ago, Byers says the homes they rented out "weren't in that great of shape," so the company upgraded them.

"We said that if we can give these families the home where the kids want to bring their friends over to their house, then we know we're on the right track."

Byers says there is very little turn over among tenants. He says Namerind rents out roughly 350 homes, with a wait list upwards of 700 families.


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