Chief of Dettah Edward Sangris, left, and Chief of Ndilǫ Ernest Betsina in Cabin Radio's Studio Two. Emelie Peacock/Cabin Radio
Almost a third of a $60-million NWT housing fund will be spent to create 19 new homes for the Yellowknives Dene First Nation, the federal government announced on Monday.
In a news release, Ottawa said $18.8 million from the fund would be spent on “the construction of 19 affordable housing units” for the First Nation: eight four-bedroom, two-bathroom houses and 11 one-bedroom apartments.
The money will help the First Nation “take control of their own housing system,” the news release stated.
“Today represents the first step in the assertion of my peoples’ sovereignty of housing,” said Chief Ernest Betsina of Ndilǫ in a statement. Betsina said the funding would allow the First Nation to act on part of a housing strategy developed in recent years “to build and govern affordable housing for our members.”
Chief Edward Sangris of Dettah said the work would create employment and training opportunities for members.
The funding will be delivered by the National Housing Co-Investment Fund, a program offered by the federal Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. The fund supports construction of mixed-use affordable housing through low-cost loans and is part of Canada’s National Housing Strategy.
The $60 million “carve-out” set aside for the NWT from the broader fund is meant to support 126 new affordable housing units in the territory. The money is being administered in two chunks, with $25.5 million going to the NWT Housing Corporation and the remaining $34.5 million going directly to Indigenous governments and organizations.
The territory has previously drawn criticism over its deployment of the fund. Some NWT housing projects were denied federal funding in March, seemingly because the territory failed to touch the $60 million for over a year.