Chief Steve Smith, from left, Carol Buzzell, elder councillor, and Health and Social Services Minister Pauline Frost, attend an unveiling of a tiny homes project at Champagne and Aishihik First Nations on Oct. 12. (Julien Gignac/Yukon News)

Tiny homes to help the precariously housed in Champagne and Aishihik First Nations

The project was formally unveiled on Oct. 12

Ten tiny homes are going to be built in Champagne and Aishihik First Nations to accommodate the precariously housed — and some of those very people will be part of crews responsible for their construction.

On Oct. 12, the project was formally unveiled, drawing a crowd that included Yukon Ministers Pauline Frost and John Streicker.

There are citizens living out of hotel rooms or with friends and family, said Chief Steve Smith, so this project will, in turn, give them a safe place to live, security, where a sense of independence can be cultivated.

“It just fits a need for us. We found over the last four years that we got a fairly large portion of our population who’re single. When they apply for a house, a typical three-bedroom, even a two-bedroom, they consistently don’t meet that criteria,” he said, noting that the current housing stock caters more to families.

The tiny homes, which measure 24 by 22 ft., are single occupancy units. Couples, Smith said, may be considered, though.

Construction will have two phases. The build of five of the homes starts on Oct. 22, lasting about 22 weeks; the next group will start to be built in April and will adhere to the same timeframe.

Ten trainees are to be selected for the construction phases. Some will be from the community, part of the Dän Ts’änānän training program, supported by the federal government’s Skills and Partnership Fund.

Having stable, affordable housing fosters other endeavours like having a successful vocation, Smith said.

“That thing most of us take for granted, in terms of going home and building our strengths up and being able to plan for our futures,” he said. “It just builds the community that much more,” adding the plan is to eventually build even more tiny homes, because housing needs are likely to continue to grow within the community.

Three tiers of government have been collaborating to see the project through.

Yukon Housing Corporation has contributed $500,000 through the Housing Initiative Fund.

“Without the partnerships this wouldn’t have happened, but the innovation and the thinking behind it all really comes from the people in Champagne-Aishihik,” said Health and Social Services Minister Pauline Frost. “I think it’s absolutely amazing. You have ten tiny homes but you also have folks building it that will be gaining some really valuable skills. It takes a holistic approach.”

John Streicker, minister of community services, said he could see the principles of this project applied elsewhere in the territory, noting a tiny house build in Carcross/Tagish First Nation.

“I see this as part of the path,” he said. “I think in all communities, but I think it definitely needs to be in First Nations, because we’ve got serious housing pressures in some First Nation communities, so I’d hate to see if it weren’t here.”

Contact Julien Gignac at julien.gignac@yukon-news.com

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