Parliamentary budget officer Yves Giroux waits to appear before the Commons finance committee on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on March 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Parliamentary budget officer Yves Giroux waits to appear before the Commons finance committee on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on March 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Closing housing gap for urban Indigenous people could cost $1.4B a year: report

Nationally, about 124,000 Indigenous households are in core housing need

The federal government would have to spend about $1.4 billion more a year to close a housing gap facing urban Indigenous people, the parliamentary budget officer says in a report that hints at the scale of a promised federal strategy to address the issue.

The cost in the report would be at the upper end of a range that starts at $159 million annually, depending on what percentage of construction costs and rent subsidies the government wants to cover.

As is, the Liberals’ decade-long national housing strategy explicitly allocates $179 million per year to Indigenous housing in urban, rural and northern areas, the PBO calculated.

The Liberals bill the cost of the strategy at over $55 billion, which includes spending to help offset mortgage costs for first-time homebuyers, as a key avenue to help ease a housing crunch for hundreds of thousands of households.

Nationally, about 124,000 Indigenous households are in core housing need, the PBO report estimated, meaning they live in units that stretch them financially, need hefty repairs, or are not large enough for their families.

The budget office’s calculation estimated the annual gap between what those households pay and the housing costs deemed affordable by a federal housing agency to be $636 million.

The federal Liberals have promised to create an urban Indigenous housing strategy, with details expected in this year’s federal budget.

Already, Liberals have been out touting coming spending to meet a promise made during the 2019 federal election campaign and sprinkled into multiple ministerial mandate letters.

The Liberals have spoken about funding for urban Indigenous housing providers as the missing piece of the national housing strategy, having already provided funding for on-reserve housing.

More than half of Indigenous households living in inadequate homes reside in the country’s biggest cities, with Winnipeg housing the highest number based on the PBO’s estimates, followed closely by Vancouver.

The report from budget office provides an idea of how much spending the Liberals would have to add to the national housing strategy, depending on how much of the housing and affordability gap the government wants to close.

Budget officer Yves Giroux said the gap is unlikely to shrink, pointing to relatively hot housing markets across the country, despite the pandemic, and demographic factors: Indigenous populations have recently grown faster than non-Indigenous people.

“These two factors suggest that the numbers to plug the affordability gap are likely to go up rather than down,” he said.

That could change if Indigenous households gain a larger foothold in the labour market and see their incomes rise, Giroux said, “but it’s not what we are seeing in the last several years.”

Indigenous households are one-and-a-half times more likely to be in housing need than non-Indigenous households, Giroux noted, with an average annual gap of $5,000 between what they should and do pay for adequate housing.

The situation is even more acute in the North, with Inuit households almost two-and-a-half times more likely to live in inadequate or unaffordable housing.

Part of the gap has to do with the adequacy requirement that the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation uses to define “core housing need,” which looks at how many rooms are needed depending on family size.

Indigenous families tend to be larger than non-Indigenous households, and census data has shown that multiple Indigenous families can be living under one roof in overcrowded homes.

A parliamentary committee researching urban Indigenous housing issues commissioned Giroux’s report released Thursday.

The House of Commons committee is expected to soon release its report, which would lay the foundation for a federal program.

Jordan Press, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.

federal governmentIndigenous

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Signs geared to protecting salmon habitat were damaged at the Fraser River near Chilliwack. (Facebook)
New signs for protecting Fraser River habitat near Chilliwack vandalized

Fishery officers want off-road users to enjoy river resource in the ‘least damaging way possible’

Abbotsford Regional Hospital (Black Press file photo)
Nurse assaulted at Abbotsford hospital in same ward as 2019 dumbbell attack

‘Completely unacceptable that nurses continue to be assaulted,’ says union president

Riverside Calvary Church in Walnut Grove. (Langley Advance Times file)
B.C. is ‘stereotyping’ churches as riskier for COVID than other spaces, lawyer argues

Judge said that freedom of expression, religion are not at issue in the case

A real estate sold sign hangs in front of a Canadian property Friday, Nov. 4, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy.
Fraser Valley Real Estate Board breaks sales records 6 months in a row

‘Levels never seen before in the 100-year history of the FVREB’

(Black Press file photo)
Harrison Mills boy, 11, dies from ‘extensive injuries’: Homicide team

Agassiz RCMP were called out Friday to assist with a child in medical distress

A health-care worker looks at a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Palais de Congress site as Quebec begins mass vaccinations based on age across the province, Monday, March 1, 2021 in Montreal.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Nearly 1 million COVID-19 vaccine doses arriving in Canada this week: Anand

Anita Anand says she’s received assurances from the vaccine manufacturer

Kelowna’s lakefront visitor centre is one of 130 around the province. Tourism businesses have been hardest hit by COVID-19 restrictions on travel. (Destination B.C.)
Tourism, small business getting COVID-19 help, B.C. minister says

$300M grant program has delivered $50 million so far

The incident happened in downtown Castlegar. Photo: Betsy Kline
Castlegar teen recounts stabbing after stranger breaks into grandmother’s house

The unnamed teen survived a terrifying attack Feb. 21

Dr. Amit Desai of St. Francis Hospital receives a COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 17. (Photo courtesy of CHI Franciscan)
B.C. has now vaccinated more people from COVID-19 than total confirmed cases

B.C. has reached a milestone, vaccinating roughly 1.6% of its population from the coronavirus

Nanaimo RCMP are looking for a suspect who smashed the window of an adult toy store and made off with more than $1,200 in merchandise. (File photo)
Vancouver Island sex shop out $1,200 in merchandise after suspect steals ‘colossal’ product

Suspect smashed window of Nanaimo store, cutting himself in the process

B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell gets acquainted with Tsawwassen First Nation Chief Kim Baird’s 10-month-old daughter Sophia, husband Steve and four-year-old Amy at the B.C. legislature before a ceremony to endorse the Tsawwassen Treaty, Oct. 15, 2007. (Sharon Tiffin/Black Press)
Indigenous consent comes first and last for B.C. industrial projects

Environment minister can still approve permits without consent

After a routine rescue of an injured hiker, Ridge Meadows Search and Rescue noted there have been four injury rescues on well-groomed trails in recent months. (Special to The News)
Injured hiker rescued from Golden Ears park

Be prepared in the backcountry, warns Ridge Meadows Search and Rescue

B.C.’s court of appeal in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Kootenay man appeals 7-year conviction for New Year’s Eve kidnapping, beating

Brandon Coons, 27, was convicted on five charges, including assault with a weapon

An investigation is underway after two VPD officers were recorded posing for pictures near a dead body at Third Beach on Feb. 24. (Screen grab/Zachary Ratcliff)
Vancouver officers placed on desk duty after filmed posing next to dead body

Pair put in ‘non-deployable, admin positions’ as the investigation into their conduct continues

Most Read