The Aqanttanam Housing Society is receiving $7.8 million from the provincial government that will go towards providing 39 units in the Cranbrook area.
The funding is set to contribute to a $9.5 million apartment complex that is being planned and developed on property beside the House of Hope church.
The society previously appeared before Cranbrook city council earlier this summer, where the property was rezoned to allow for a three-storey, 39-unit complex.
“Plans are in place, we are working with the engineers now and the architect and planning through all of the required paperwork,” said Austin Parisien, the executive director of Aqanttanam Housing Society.
“…and then, we’re hoping that by the time everything comes together — spring or June by the latest — we will be ready to have a shovel in the ground and we’re anticipating to be finished, ready to rent it out, by August 2020.”
Parisien noted that Cranbrook is lacking in affordable housing options.
“There’s a lot of people that really can’t afford t live in market-rent units in this city,” he said. “Rents are too high, their incomes are very low…zero vacancy rate for most of the city and it’s just out of their reach.
“This is going to make a difference.”
Parisien said he has a waiting list of over 100 clients looking to get into one of Aqanttanam’s 54 housing units.
Provincially, the government’s funding announcement is part of a 10-year plan that seeks to build 1,750 units of social housing for Indigenous Peoples on and off-reserve.
The first intake of proposals for the Building BC: Indigenous Housing Fund, which was launched in this year’s budget, included 780 off-reserve homes and 370 homes on-reserve in 26 communities across the province, according to a press release.
“The housing situation facing Indigenous peoples in British Columbia is unacceptable,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “Through these new homes, we are working together with First Nations, the Aboriginal Housing Management Association and Indigenous housing providers to take an important step toward addressing this critical need in every corner of the province.”
The first intake of housing proposals is expected to deliver the units within the next two to four years. A second intake and call for housing proposals is expected in the spring of 2020.