The Ta’an Kwäch’än Council’s development corporation has opened the first of three buildings in Whistle Bend aimed at housing low-income Yukoners.
Tenants will be moving into the first building in the River Bend complex Nov. 1. The two other buildings are slated to open Dec. 15 and Feb. 15, respectively.
“Home means a place to grow with dignity, a place to experience safety and be part of a community,” said Chief Kristina Kane at the opening ceremonies Oct. 27.
“Citizens deserve these kinds of places on our traditional territory but in this climate of high-priced housing they’re sometimes beyond grasp.”
The three building will be providing a total of 42 one, two, and three-bedroom apartments. Twelve will be filled with Ta’an Kwäch’än Council members and 30 with tenants from the Yukon government’s social housing wait list.
In both cases, tenants, who all fall below an income cap, will pay 25 per cent of their total gross monthly household income for rent. The remainder of the rent — at market rate — will be covered through subsidies from either the First Nation or the Yukon Housing Corporation.
It’s a viable business model, said Ben Asquith the CEO of the Da Daghay Development Corporation. “The business model worked. We’re showing that we’re making money month one.”
The majority of the $6.3 million to build the complex came from bank financing, he said.
The Yukon Housing Corporation provided a $500,000 rental construction grant to the Da Daghay Development using money from the federal Northern Housing Trust.
The City of Whitehorse is also offering discounts on property taxes over the next 10 years.
The project was completely locally-sourced, Asquith said.
“Throughout the construction phase our citizens have been in work boots as labourers, carpenters and electricians, getting new skills and building on others,” Kane said.
Representatives from all four levels of government were on hand for the opening including current and former grand chiefs of the Council of Yukon First Nations, Whitehorse’s mayor, Yukon’s MP, territorial politicians from all three political parties and former premier Darrell Pasloski.
According to a document tabled by housing minister Pauling Frost earlier this month, there are currently 192 people across the territory on the wait list for either seniors or social housing. That’s compared to 105 at the end of July last year, according to the Yukon Housing Corporation.
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