A housing project being built in Lower Post, British Columbia, has the potential to draw First Nation members back to the community, says Daylu Dena Council Chief Harlan Schilling.
“This is an opportunity for families to move back to our community,” he said in an Aug. 27 interview following the project announcement.
The project will see 16 new homes built in two separate, secure wings of the development. Six units will be women’s transitional housing for women and children in need of a safe home with the other 10 units providing supportive housing for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness.
The project is being funded with $5.1 million through the B.C. government’s Women’s Transitional Housing Fund and $6 million through the Supportive Housing Fund. It comes after many years of work through a partnership between the DDC and BC Housing.
“There’s many different moving parts,” Schilling said.
Also involved is the North West Company, which owns the land that is located in the middle of the DDC reserve and has provided a 30-year lease at a rate of $1 per year with a renewal clause included.
“Shortage of affordable housing in Indigenous communities is a problem we see across Canada,” Mike Beaulieu, vice-president of Canadian store operations for the North West Company said. “We are excited to be able to contribute the land that will enable construction of 16 new homes and look forward to seeing the positive outcomes this project will have on the community.”
While BC Housing is building the project, the Lower Post First Nation Housing Society will be responsible for managing the building and providing residents with daily supports including meals, wellness support and referrals to health services. Residents will have access to teaching from Elders and programming for physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being with at least two staffers to be on-site at all times.
Each unit is set to include a private washroom and mini kitchen. Shared amenities will include a laundry room, commercial kitchen and a dining lounge area. The building will also feature a medical room to provide on-site care for residents.
Schilling noted many First Nation members leave the community, with a number moving to Watson Lake, due to a lack of housing. This project, he said, will provide an opportunity for members to stay or return to the community.
Doug Donaldson, MLA for Stikine, B.C. stated in the announcement: “Housing is the foundation on which people build their lives, and everyone deserves a safe and secure place to call home. This new housing will provide an opportunity for Daylu Dena members living elsewhere to move back to their community and connect with their friends, family and culture.”
Construction began two weeks ago and is expected to wrap up in September 2021.
Schilling stated a “big thank-you” to the community including those who served on previous councils, noting the work to plan for the project has been many years in the making.
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