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Selina Robinson, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, says this is a historical first for a province to be working with First Nation communities to provide affordable housing. (Black Press Photo) In a precedent-setting move, BC Housing will be providing more than 1,100 new homes for Indigenous people in B.C.

“This is historical,” says B.C.’s minister of municipal affairs and housing, Selina Robinson. “No provincial government has ever said we’re going to build housing with First Nations. It’s important that we do it because it’s the right thing to do, it’s part of reconciliation and it’s better for everybody when there’s access to appropriate housing.”

Overall, approximately $231 million will be provided to build new housing in 26 communities throughout B.C. This includes $76 million for 367 unit of on-reserve and $155 million for 776 reserves of off-reserve housing.

“If you’re challenged to pay for medication, food, and transportation — these are all essential to have a decent life,” says Robinson. “We shouldn’t have to wait years and years to build these sorts of projects, we want to give … families a key to a home that will provide them with some security for a long-term.”

BC Housing will be working with 30 different projects across the province, which are now at different stages of development.

The rent payment of these properties will to reflect the renter’s income, which is determined on the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) guidelines of having to pay no more than 30 per cent of income for housing.

“There have been so many stories of overcrowding, so children and young adults leave because there’s no housing for them, they go to urban centres where they have no support system and then they fall into challenging lifestyles,” says Robinson. “Or even elders who lived in communities their entire lives, but now they need to leave because there’s isn’t any of housing they need — it makes it harder for everybody.”

READ MORE: B.C. women fleeing violence to get new transition housing facilities

Robinson says there were a number of chiefs and leaders from Indigenous communities at the funding announcement Nov. 24 and that everyone in the room wanted to “collectively weep”, feeling an “immense sense of relief.”

“This is historical, that’s what was so touching about Saturday,” Robinson says.

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