Construction continues on two projects that will bring shelter and homes to more than 20 Yukoners.
Funding for the building of five townhouse structures in Whistle Bend for the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations (CAFN) and for a men’s shelter and transitional housing facility being operated by the Trʼondëk Hwëchʼin in Dawson City was reviewed during a press conference in Whitehorse on July 25.
Trʼondëk Hwëchʼin Chief Roberta Joseph, federal minister of housing and diversity and inclusion Ahmed Hussen, and territorial Energy, Mines and Resources Minister John Streicker (who appeared on behalf of Ranj Pillai, the minister responsible for the Yukon Housing Corporation) spoke during the press conference, outlining the plans for the projects.
“We know that a home is way more than four walls and a roof,” Hussen said. “It is a place of belonging. It is a place that people deserve to be in, regardless of what part of Canada they’re in.”
The plans for the new shelter and homes have been outlined previously in funding announcements and as efforts have made their way through municipal processes for zoning and development incentive programs.
From the federal government, more than $16 million is being provided to the townhouse project with another $5 million going to the shelter and transitional housing units. It will also provide $300,000 per year towards operating costs of the shelter.
Meanwhile, Streicker outlined funding from the territory including $600,000 for the CAFN’s project through the rapid housing initiative. For the shelter project, the territory is putting in $900,000 from the Yukon Housing Corporation along with $125,000 per year from Health and Social Services for operating costs.
At the helm of the shelter project, the Trʼondëk Hwëchʼin is also investing a total of $685,000 into the building of the two story building and into the land. It will also put $50,000 each year towards the operations along with the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition who also slated to contribute $90,000 annually.
Speaking to the plans for the Jëje Zho men’s shelter, Joseph said its expected the shelter will open in November, providing both shelter and transitional housing units.
The building will include 10 residential units with up to 11 beds, supported living and an outreach office on the second floor, and three emergency shelter beds and support offices on the first floor.
The shelter will provide on-site care for addictions including detox preparation and after care, harm reduction and mental health supports. The building will be fully accessible on both floors.
The shelter design incorporates many aspects of the Trʼondëk Hwëchʼin culture, with colours, textures and materials inspired by traditional fish drying racks, canoe designs, local forests, and rocks from the riverbeds of the First Nation’s traditional territory.
“We are not just building a homeless shelter,” Joseph said. “We are investing in people’s lives and healing by creating a safe place for residents to grow, strengthen and build themselves back up again.”
Along with thanking the federal and territorial governments for their contribution to the project, Joseph also noted the First Nation’s thanks to the City of Dawson for a grant -which it will recieve in lieu of taxes over 10 years- as well as the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition support for operations each year.
CAFN Chief Steve Smith and Yukon MP Brendan Hanley were not able to attend the event; however, both also highlighted the importance of housing in the Yukon in a statement.
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