By Rick Garrick
MUNSEE-DELAWARE NATION—Six young families in Munsee-Delaware Nation are enjoying new homes thanks to the construction of a six-unit housing complex in the Southwest Region community.
“They all love it,” says Michele Snake, housing coordinator for Munsee-Delaware Nation. “They are all very happy — they couldn’t wait to get in.”
Snake says the tenants were selected for the new housing units through an application process for young families who wanted to return home to the reserve.
“It’s affordable housing,” Snake says. “We provide maintenance workshops, which we are having on the 11th for their first one to help the [tenants] so they can understand basic home maintenance. We made that mandatory as part of their tenant agreement.”
Snake says there will be quarterly inspections on the maintenance of the housing units.
“If problems do occur, we want to work with the families and provide those supports,” Snake says, noting that basic home maintenance, budgeting and conflict resolution supports would be available. “Sometimes people just need that [support].”
Snake says the housing plan for the six-unit housing complex was based on bringing home families and preventing homelessness. Construction began last fall after the federal government approved the project in September. The project was completed in May.
“We started working on it and we were done before the due date,” Snake says. “We have four three-bedroom units and two two-bedroom units. They are all geared for young families, affordable housing.”
The housing units include a five-foot high crawl space and a main floor living space with kitchen appliances and hookups for laundry appliances.
“We did all the landscaping, we provided central air, we provided the kitchen appliances,” Snake says. “And we provided the blinds in all of the windows.”
Munsee-Delaware Nation celebrated the completion of the six-unit housing complex with a grand opening on June 2. The community of about 155 on-reserve citizens was one of 55 First Nation communities across Ontario that received new housing investments through the federal government’s Budget 2016.
“Congratulations to the Munsee-Delaware Nation on this important housing initiative that will serve the community for years to come,” says Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada Minister Carolyn Bennett.
The federal government invested $800,000 into the project, which was part of about $62 million in Budget 2016 investments to improve on-reserve housing conditions in Ontario and about $554.3 million in Budget 2016 investments over two years across Canada. The band also invested about $175,000 into the project.
“We are pleased to partner with the government of Canada in an effort to reduce the need for housing in our community,” says Munsee-Delaware Nation Chief Roger Thomas. “These new homes will contribute to a healthier life, a sense of belonging, and remaining or coming home for families in our community.”
Munsee-Delaware Nation provides a number of housing options to community members, including social housing, home ownership and a renovation loan program.
“This is the first one that is the apartment-style, with everyone living in one area,” Snake says about the six-unit housing complex. “Most of [the tenants] have come from the city, so they are a little bit used to the apartment-style living.”
The community finalized a new housing policy in partnership with the federal government in 2013.