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Public housing might open doors on reserve
Band members now forced to move

Paul Bickford
Northern News Services
Monday, November 21, 2016

The Hay River Reserve will likely be getting public housing in 2017.

Public housing - along with the possibility of creating a housing authority just for the reserve - was discussed at a K'atlodeeche First Nation (KFN) membership meeting on Oct. 27.

In comments to News/North, Peter Groenen, the chief executive officer with KFN, said there is currently no public housing on the reserve.

"Right now, if anybody on the reserve needed public housing they actually have to move to Hay River," he said.

"So band members are being forced to move to Hay River if they are in need of public housing because they couldn't afford a house."

However, Groenen said the NWT Housing Corporation is planning to bring online six of its houses that have been empty on the reserve for about 15 years and 10 houses that were purchased from KFN in June.

"They're bringing them all online probably next year, and at that time we'll probably discuss setting up a local housing authority on the reserve here, rather than having it served out of the Hay River Housing Authority," he said.

Just four of the houses formerly owned by KFN are currently occupied.

Groenen said the GNWT is planning to upgrade the houses and bring them up to the latest code, and then they'll be on the market.

"They've agreed to allocate as many of these units as are left over as public housing," he said.

"Then people who are actually living in Hay River that are band members and want to come back may be able to come back to live on the reserve."

Groenen said that will be a big step in terms of being able to provide more social support on the reserve.

Caroline Cochrane, minister responsible for the NWT Housing Corporation, made a statement in the legislative assembly in June about the arrangement between the corporation and the KFN that will let the territorial government deliver housing services and programs on reserve land.

"Delivery of social housing on reserve land presents unique challenges because of the requirement for secure land tenure," she said. "However, recognizing their members need housing programs and services, the K'atlodeeche First Nation went through the land designation process, allowing the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation to secure a land lease for property on the Hay River Reserve from the Government of Canada."

KFN and the corporation were assisted by the Department of Justice and the Department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada.

"As a result of this work, the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation has recently acquired 10 units on the land designated by the K'atlodeeche First Nation that will be rented to their residents under the Public Housing Program," Cochrane added.

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