A place to call home
Sep 25, 2012 / 6:13 am
The province announced today it will finish transferring the ownership and management of hundreds of BC Aboriginal housing properties to qualified providers, including in the Okanagan.
The BC government, in partnership with the Aboriginal Housing Management Association (AHMA), is currently accepting proposals from Aboriginal non-profit housing providers looking to own or manage some of 400 Rural Native Housing (RNH) properties throughout the province.
Today’s announcement is part of the final phase of the government’s transfer of its RNH portfolio. RNH properties are reserved for providing rental and home-ownership opportunities for off-reserve Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal households in housing need in rural areas.
The properties to be transferred are located in eight geographical rural regions in BC. They include: Far North, Fraser Valley, Kootenays, North Central, North West, Okanagan, South Cariboo, and Sunshine Coast.
"The transfer of ownership and management of the Rural Native Housing program will ensure that Aboriginal families in rural communities continue to have safe, affordable homes,” said Rich Coleman, Minister Responsible for Housing. “This also brings us closer to our government's goal of Aboriginal self-management, self-reliance, and self-sufficiency and in the provision of safe, affordable housing for Aboriginal peoples."
Aboriginal non-profit housing providers must submit their proposal by Nov. 8, 2012. View or download the Request for Proposal.
The transfer, expected to be completed by early 2013, began in 2011 when the province transferred 75 RNH properties on Vancouver Island to M'akola Housing Society.
"We are working closely with the government of BC to ensure a smooth transition of the remaining Rural Native Housing properties,” said Andrew Leach, CEO of AHMA. “We are looking forward to taking on the administration of these properties and working with Aboriginal non-profit housing providers."
Okanagan Indian Band Chief Byron Louis voiced words of caution.
"If the there are safe guards in place to ensure these properties remain in the realm of low income social housing, supported by strong policy and procedure to base management (maintenance, collections, etc.), their should not be a problem. If there aren't these mechanisms in place at the time of the transference of authority, expect problems."
AHMA will be responsible for the administration of subsidies and operating agreements when ownership is transferred to Aboriginal housing providers.
The change in ownership will not affect tenancy for existing families.
The RNH program, established by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) in 1974, provides approximately 500 housing units to British Columbia's Aboriginal off-reserve population. The portfolio includes mainly single-family houses located in small and rural communities.
The province says more than 97,000 BC households will benefit from provincial social housing programs and services this year.
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