Our Housing Central partners at the Aboriginal Housing Management Association (AHMA) are pleased to see significant investment in Affordable Housing and Homelessness across BC in the 2023 BC Budget. This investment is long overdue and needed as BC deals with a housing and homelessness crisis that disproportionately impacts Indigenous people and communities.
From their media release [PDF]:
For too long, governments across all levels have underfunded housing and homelessness support for Indigenous communities and people. The $4.2 billion dollar investment in Affordable Housing in the provincial budget—including an additional $1.7 billion commitment in operating and capital to double the number of units created through the Indigenous Housing Fund, and expand the Community Housing Fund, is a step in the right direction and will help realize key actions set out in AHMA’s Urban, Rural and Northern Indigenous Housing Strategy (URNIHS) [PDF].
To leverage this provincial investment, the Federal government needs to follow through on its overdue commitment to a national Urban, Rural, and Northern Indigenous Strategy. The $300 million allocated in the 2022 Federal Budget fell well short of the $6.3 billion recommended by the National Housing Council.
“The BC budget shows the provincial commitment to investing in Indigenous Housing. However, we are still far from closing the inequity gap. We need immediate actions from the Federal Government to match what BC has on the table.”Margaret Pfoh, CEO of AHMA.
The BC budget also contains meaningful investment in mental health and addictions, embedding enhanced health supports in housing is key to supporting our most vulnerable community members who are struggling with mental health and addiction issues. Access to culturally safe, affordable housing is a critical component in addressing these issues and the public health emergency that has resulted from the toxic drug supply.
Further investments in Homelessness programming and capital funding are welcome, including the provincial commitment to work collaboratively with Indigenous communities and organizations. In BC, 39% of our homeless population self‐identify as Indigenous but make up only 6% of the total population.
The 1.5‐billion‐dollar investment in homelessness provides a critical opportunity to move forward with and implement BC’s Indigenous Homelessness Strategy, as well as prioritize more no barrier housing options for those Indigenous community members living in encampments.
AHMA looks forward to working closely with the Ministry of Housing as this investment is implemented. We need to put DRIPA [The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (Declaration Act) ] in action by advancing self‐determination and prioritizing For‐Indigenous, By Indigenous Approaches.