CHRA’s Blueprint for Housing - Urban, Rural and Northern Indigenous Housing: Implementing Reconciliation for Indigenous peoples

06 Oct 2022

By Leah Blunden, CHRA Communications Manager


CHRA’s Blueprint for Housing is an in-depth policy document that will help inform CHRA’s advocacy efforts over the coming decade as we work towards our goal of ensuring that all who live in Canada have access to safe, affordable, appropriate housing.

The lack of a comprehensive approach to addressing urban, rural, and northern (URN) Indigenous housing remains the “missing gap” in the National Housing Strategy. The first chapter of the Blueprint contains recommendations to address URN Indigenous housing so that we can work towards Reconciliation. Read on to see a summary of these recommendations.


Implementing a “For Indigenous, By Indigenous” housing strategy

In 2018, the CHRA Indigenous Caucus released its proposal for a comprehensive urban, rural and northern Indigenous housing plan. This document contained several key recommendations, including dedicated funding for new URN Indigenous housing, the creation of a dedicated organization to oversee an URN Indigenous housing strategy, and a dedicated housing plan for the north.

The time has come for an URN Indigenous strategy to be announced, implemented, and properly funded without further delay as the first step as part of a broader and expanded National Housing Strategy.

Recommendation: Implementation of the recommendations contained in the 2018 proposal from the CHRA Indigenous Caucus for a “For Indigenous, By Indigenous” (FIBI) housing strategy with the timely creation of a governance body that provides for self-determination of housing programs by representatives of urban, rural, and northern (URN) Indigenous peoples.


Supporting Indigenous self-determination

It is imperative that future Indigenous housing policies and programs be designed and led by Indigenous representatives. The principle of self-determination is a core principle in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (which Canada has ratified), the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, and the Final Report from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

Recommendation: Adoption by the federal government of a principle of self-determination for all current and future housing policies related to urban, rural, and northern Indigenous peoples, and the establishment of a dedicated organizational structure that would be tasked with developing and implementing Indigenous housing policy.


Preserving existing Indigenous community housing stock

Over many decades, URN Indigenous housing providers have built up a considerable supply of Indigenous housing stock; however, that housing is aging and in need of significant repair and renovation.

The loss of existing affordable URN Indigenous housing units signifies a step back in the objective of providing safe, affordable housing for all URN Indigenous peoples. The loss of existing units will accelerate over time given the age of the existing stock unless immediate resources for repairs and renovations are introduced.

Recommendation: Inclusion of resources and programs that provide for the renovation of the existing stock of Indigenous community housing as part of a comprehensive urban, rural, and northern Indigenous housing strategy.


Building an evidence-based approach to Indigenous community housing

Taking action to improve URN Indigenous housing requires a comprehensive national picture on the state of URN Indigenous housing and statistics on the number of and needs of Indigenous individuals facing homelessness, particularly Indigenous youth, and women.

The FIBI organizational structure previously recommended must be provided with a mandate and resources to collect data, perform analyses, and conduct research to better understand the state and condition of the current supply of URN Indigenous housing and homelessness among Indigenous populations.

Recommendation: The provision of a mandate and resources to conduct building assessments, Indigenous homelessness research, and to pursue other data and research needs that would support the implementation of an URN Indigenous housing strategy within the FIBI organizational structure.


Championing an URN Indigenous housing strategy

Although it’s critical for the federal government to develop programs, approaches, and policies aimed at urban, rural, and northern Indigenous housing, provinces, territories, municipalities, and other federal government departments beyond CMHC play key roles. If we are to realize the objective of strengthening and increasing access to URN Indigenous housing, these other entities need to share the same commitment to the For Indigenous, By Indigenous principles and to coordinate funding programs and policy directions.

Recommendation: Promotion and education by the federal government to other orders of government and public entities on the importance of a For Indigenous, By Indigenous approach to URN Indigenous housing and the coordination of approaches, programs, and policies with other orders of government in creating a pan-Canadian approach to URN Indigenous housing.


Want to learn more about our recommendations to improve housing outcomes for urban, rural, and northern Indigenous peoples? Check out CHRA’s Blueprint for Housing.