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Posted by on Jun 2020 in Advocacy, All Stories, Features, Sector voices, Slider, Uncategorized | 0 comments

ONPHA launches Ontario’s first-ever Urban & Rural Indigenous Housing Plan

Image: autumn leaves. Text: ONPHA's Urban and Rural Indigenous Housing Plan for Ontario

In fall 2018, ONPHA’s membership unanimously adopted a resolution put forth by its Urban Aboriginal Housing Advisory Committee resolving that ONPHA work with partners to call on federal and provincial governments to implement urban and rural Indigenous housing strategies.

To support this resolution, ONPHA engaged consultants Daniel J. Brant and Associates and formed a steering committee composed of members of ONPHA’s Urban Aboriginal Housing Advisory Committee to create an Urban and Rural Indigenous Housing Plan for Ontario.

On May 21, 2020, ONPHA launched the plan to the public.

Why do we need this Plan?

A man sitting on the bank of a lake, wrapped in a blanket of Indigenous design.

As demographic shifts and legislative changes increase recognized Indigenous populations, their disproportionate need for affordable housing has become clearer than ever. As need grows, so too does the necessity of Indigenous-specific housing.

Eighty-five per cent of Indigenous people in Ontario live off-reserve: ONPHA’s first-of-its-kind Urban and Rural Indigenous Housing Plan for Ontario can help meet the needs of growing, increasingly urban Indigenous populations and help decrease Indigenous over-representation in health, justice and social services systems.

What does the Plan say?

Community housing building, exterior.

Building 22,000 units over 10 years can add 95,000 year-jobs into the market in the construction sector and other industries, while adding $3.8 billion to the province’s economy through construction multipliers.

Investing in Indigenous housing can save Ontario $14.3 billion in provincial system efficiencies, including $3.9 billion in personal incomes from improved employment and education outcomes for Indigenous people.

Annually, the province could save $1 billion in social services, health, and shelter system costs, $24 million in the foster care system and $10.5 million in the justice system, with total savings of $10.4 billion over the course of the Plan.

Indigenous communities face critical inequality every day, only exacerbated by the global COVID-19 pandemic: affordable, culturally-supportive housing is critical to increase quality of life in Indigenous communities.

Data is also critical to the Plan’s effectiveness. Ontario needs a comprehensive, community-supported Indigenous housing database to accurately represent the sector’s current and future needs, its gaps and capacity. Without data, the problem will continue to compound over time.

While a pandemic and recession hits the province hard and unemployment disproportionally affects Indigenous people, a $7.3 billion investment could help rapidly expand the province’s recovery efforts, cut down on support system inefficiencies and support Indigenous communities in urban and rural areas for long-term success.

Indigenous people at a community picnic, drummers in the foreground.

The Plan recognizes the benefits of not only providing adequate, affordable housing for Indigenous people, but also of providing culturally-relevant, wrap-around services and supports through Indigenous-led housing providers.

Ensuring cultural continuum in housing can help address lasting impacts of racism, colonialism and inter-generational trauma while helping move Indigenous people along the housing continuum

The Plan highlights the need for greater Indigenous control, management, vision and direction of the Indigenous housing sector.

What will ONPHA do next?

The Plan is a critical step on the path to reconciliation. It must be undertaken in true partnership with Indigenous partners across Ontario, recognizing diverse perspectives and needs in the sector.

ONPHA looks forward to engaging and working with Indigenous, federal, provincial and municipal governments to resource and implement the Plan.

To subscribe to updates on the plan and other ONPHA advocacy activities with decision-makers, contact communications@onpha.org to sign up for our weekly e-alert.

What can you do to help?

Indigenous family posing in front of their home.

ONPHA members have an important role to play to ensure housing is safe and accessible for everyone. Getting involved is a good first step – you can contact policy@onpha.org to see how your organization can help bring the sector and decision-makers together to help build culturally supportive homes for off-reserve Indigenous communities.

Download ONPHA’s Indigenous Housing Plan today.

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