The Yellowknives Dene First Nation is receiving $18.8 million dollars out of the National Housing Co-Investment Fund.
With the money, YKDFN will be building 19 affordable housing units in Ndilo and Dettah.
“This is a real change. Change with impact,” said Dettah Chief Edward Sangris. “We are embarking on a much needed change in the way housing issues are approached in the rest of the north.”
Sangris added giving YKDFN control of the money will create trading and employment opportunities for his band members in a way that wouldn’t have happened previously.
“This would never be available in a one size fits all policy system,” he said.
“For too long, housing decisions for our communities have been made by people, thousands of miles away. The loss of understanding of our geography — we know this critical approach that has failed our people,” he added.
The NWT’s portion of the fund, totalling $60 million, has been carved out for them by the federal government out of a larger $750 million fund. The NWT is still eligible to apply for a portion of the larger money, but they are certain to have access to at least $60 million, which is aimed at building more affordable housing units.
The money is being split between the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation, Indigenous governments and other organizations.
The fund had initially been announced in February 2019, but the GNWT had been slow to spend the money, with the federal government criticizing the territorial government’s inaction on the fund, according to a report by Cabin Radio.
A number of organizations had been rejected for applications to a separate fund because the $60-million carve out had not been spent.
With the carve out money, the GNWT says they aim to build 126 affordable housing units in locations throughout the territory.
Federal Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Ahmed Hussen said the territories were given the $60 million carve-out partly in recognition of how much more expensive building supplies are in the territories, having seen a spike in prices during the pandemic.
Of the 126 units, sixty of those units will become public housing, managed by the NWT Housing Corporation. The units will be built in 16 remote communities, with the maintenance costs covered by the federal government — totalling $1.5 million a year.
NWT Housing Minister Paulie Chinna said the GNWT looked at the waitlist to determine which communities would be receiving funding for new housing projects.