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Rent-to-own affordable housing units to be built in Edmonton for Paul First Nation members

Click to play video: 'Edmonton rent-to-own housing units to be built for Paul First Nation members'
Edmonton rent-to-own housing units to be built for Paul First Nation members
A collection of affordable rental and rent-to-own units will be built in Edmonton as part of a joint project to provide off-reserve housing for Paul Band First Nation members. Lisa MacGregor reports. – Oct 3, 2022

Twenty-four new affordable rental and rent-to-own units will be built in Edmonton as part of a joint project to provide accessible off-reserve housing for members of Paul First Nation.

It’s been four years in the making for the first nation, which is located about 30 kilometres west of Edmonton.

Housing has become an increasingly pressing issue there and many members have had to relocate to urban centres because there weren’t any housing options in the area. In fact, Paul First Nation member Stanley Bearhead said some residents are building homes themselves on the Paul First Nation without electricity or sewage system just to keep their family together.

“We don’t have the resources to meet the demand,” Chief Arthur Rain said. “A lot of people are doing their own little homes and we can’t service every home unless it’s in the townsite setting. If they build it just anywhere, then it’s hard to get service there.”

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Rain said there have been town hall meetings about this project in Edmonton, Calgary and on the Paul First Nation and members are excited.

“Everybody has their own desires, way of life,” he said. “Some people want to continue their education (and) there’s more amenities in the city.

“It’s great for the governments to offer opportunities like this for the first nations. On our own resource base, it’s hard to accommodate all the needs. There’s people with different goal settings (and) maybe this is their setting here, with the university here… maybe this is where they want to build a career,” he added.

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Rain said the Paul First Nation council has a responsibility to look after the needs of members both on-reserve and off-reserve.

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“The rent-to-own model is a housing alternative for our membership living off-reserve that supports a sustainable future with all resources made available for a better life. We are honoured and grateful to have the support from the provincial government, the federal government and the City of Edmonton that have come together and joined our efforts.

“I feel we are well on our way towards not only a brighter today, but a tomorrow that brings opportunity for change,” Rain said.

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The province and federal government will provide joint funding of $3 million under the 10-year National Housing Strategy‘s bilateral agreement. Alberta’s funding comes from the Indigenous Housing Capital Program (IHCP), which supports Indigenous governments and communities to build affordable off-reserve, off-settlement and on-settlement housing.

The City of Edmonton is putting in a $1.5-million grant and Paul First Nation is working to secure more than $4.5 million through the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). The Paul Band Property Management Corporation will contribute a minimum of $685,000, about 10 per cent of the total project cost, to cover its contribution toward the total capital costs.

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“I’m so pleased to see all orders of government working together to provide these 24 affordable housing units in our city,” Edmonton mayor Amarjeet Sohi said. “Every single affordable housing unit provided is a step in the right direction and this Indigenous-led housing will make a difference in the lives of families and seniors from the Paul First Nation.”

“For the first time, a housing project funded through our Indigenous Housing Capital Program is offering tenants a rent-to-own option,” added Josephine Pon, Alberta minister of Seniors and Housing. “The Paul First Nation project reflects the flexibility of this program and we are proud to support this new housing and the promise to make home ownership a reality for Paul First Nation members.”

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“The availability of affordable, accessible off-reserve housing is important,” said Alberta’s minister of Indigenous Relations, Rick Wilson. “These 24 units supported by IHCP for Paul First Nation provide equitable access and necessary supports in urban areas. This is a great development and I look forward to continued success.”

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The 24-unit project will also create about 50 jobs.

Officials hope construction will begin within the year.

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