Affordable rental project in Chilliwack for Indigenous people aims to solve housing crisis – Agassiz Harrison Observer

A new 23-unit affordable housing complex that has opened in Chilliwack for Indigenous people is the first step in meeting the housing needs of a First Nations community, according to a local leader.

“This has been a need for our community for several years,” said Tzeachten First Nation Chief Derek Epp. “It was such a huge move for us to be able to meet the needs of all of our members…and we realized this was really just the beginning for us.”

Eagles could be heard calling from the skies as the affordable rental townhouse project officially opened on Thursday, June 23 on Tzeachten Land.

Dignitaries and guests cut a ribbon at the grand opening of the Tzeachten Affordable Housing Project, Thursday, June 23, 2022. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

Located at 46600 La:lem Way, the development features a mix of one, two and three bedroom homes spread across five buildings.

Monthly rents vary based on unit size and tenant income. With a major subsidy, rents start as low as $300 to $400 for a one bedroom unit, $400 to $500 for two bedrooms, and $500 to $600 for three bedrooms. Rents will reach around $1,200.

The units will be operated by the Tzeachten First Nation Property and Works Department, which has 18 years of experience managing housing and commercial buildings for the community.

When applications opened, Tzeachten got great insight into their community demographics, Epp said, adding that they learned where the system’s gaps were and how to address those issues in their next project.

“We had more applicants than we could provide housing, which meets the housing needs in all of our communities. »

Starting July 1, young families, seniors and others, including young adults, will begin moving in. Nominations were open to Aboriginal people inside and outside the Tzeachten community.

“We have a lot of families moving,” Epp said.

Chief Derek Epp of Tzeachten First Nation speaks at the groundbreaking for the Tzeachten Affordable Housing Project on Thursday, June 23, 2022. (Jenna Hauck/Chilliwack Progress)

Chief Derek Epp of Tzeachten First Nation speaks at the groundbreaking for the Tzeachten Affordable Housing Project on Thursday, June 23, 2022. (Jenna Hauck/Chilliwack Progress)

The province provided approximately $2.5 million to the project through the Building BC: Community Housing Fund, while the First Nations Finance Authority (FNFA) provided approximately $5.5 million in construction funding Low cost.

This is BC Housing’s first FNFA-funded project in the province.

“It’s the first of its kind, it’s unique. But we hope it won’t remain unique for long because we hope other First Nations in British Columbia will follow the same model to meet their housing needs,” said Ernie Daniels, President and CEO. general of the AFPN.

People gather outside the Tzeachten affordable housing project during the grand opening Thursday, June 23, 2022. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

People gather outside the Tzeachten affordable housing project during the grand opening Thursday, June 23, 2022. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

The Tzeachten First Nation provided the land for the project, valued at $3 million, as well as $1.5 million for the construction of the development. Indigenous Services Canada provided $1.8 million to build a road to the site. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation provided a grant of $138,000 for pre-development costs. An additional provincial grant of approximately $300,000 was provided through the Housing Innovation Investment Fund.

“Our government is doing its part to make sure people can stay in their communities, stay close to family, neighbors, friends and the services that are so important to keeping us together,” said Kelli Paddon, MP for Chilliwack-Kent. .

The new homes are located close to the Tzeachten Sports Complex, which offers a community garden, playground, sports field, clubhouse and function rooms. The site is part of a larger community vision that will see more accommodations added in the future.

People tour inside one of the units in the Tzeachten Affordable Housing Project on Thursday, June 23, 2022. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

People tour inside one of the units in the Tzeachten Affordable Housing Project on Thursday, June 23, 2022. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

It has been in the works for about 10 years. Initially the vision was to build an apartment with townhouses, but it ended up being a smaller scale development with larger units to meet the needs of the members.

Some units are already equipped with wheelchair access, while others are designed to be converted into accessible units.

A recently announced trail project where 800 meters of sidewalks and bike lanes will be installed along Chilliwack River Road will make it safer for pedestrians and cyclists.

Construction of the affordable housing project began in March 2021 and was on budget and on schedule.

Epp pointed out that Tzeachten added more funding to the project to increase the square footage of the units, going beyond BC Housing’s requirements.

“Some of our kids may have their own bedroom for the first time in their lives,” Epp said. “To me, that’s why we do this work.”

But the biggest win is seeing “the joy on the faces of so many of our members seeing this project come to fruition,” he said.

This project is part of British Columbia’s 10-year, $7 billion housing plan. Since 2017, the province has funded nearly 34,000 new affordable homes that have been completed or are underway for British Columbians, including more than 400 homes in Chilliwack.

People tour inside one of the units in the Tzeachten Affordable Housing Project on Thursday, June 23, 2022. (Jenna Hauck/Chilliwack Progress)

People tour inside one of the units in the Tzeachten Affordable Housing Project on Thursday, June 23, 2022. (Jenna Hauck/Chilliwack Progress)

Drummers sing outside the Tzeachten affordable housing project during the grand opening Thursday, June 23, 2022. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

Drummers sing outside the Tzeachten affordable housing project during the grand opening Thursday, June 23, 2022. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)


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