Councillor sounds alarm on Six Nations Housing Crisis

By Turtle Island News staff
The housing crisis is coming to a head on Six Nations with a severe lack of housing and land available for members after years of underfunded housing services.
Six Nations Elected Council (SNEC) Councillor Helen Miller has been sounding the alarm for more than two years warning Indigenous Services Canada is pushing to expand devolution of housing to First Nations.
Miller gave SNEC an update on the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Chiefs Committee on Housing committee at SNEC’s Political Liaison meeting on January 23. She reiterated that her recommendation is, and has always been, for Six Nations to start its own housing authority.
“There’s so many people that can’t find housing that don’t have houses. Rent is so high in Brantford, they can’t afford to live in Brantford. There’s a lot buying those little sheds. I think personally. They could be fire hazards. It looks like it could go up in flames. There’s a lot of sad looking trailers. I’m seeing more trailers in the community because people are having a housing crisis. A lot of people probably don’t qualify for a housing loan. We have a housing crisis,” she said.
Miller said the AFN did a nationwide housing needs study and have asked the federal government to provide the $135 billion needed to create adequate housing on first nations across the country, but she noted that Ontario First Nations would only receive 31 per cent of that and she doesn’t know what Six Nations would receive. She’s not confident the AFN will even get anything close to their $135 billion request.
“People are taking whatever they can get in terms of finding a house, so we are in a housing crisis. couple that with a land crisis because people can’t find land too,” she said. “So we have those two crises right now. I think we really need to start doing what we can do. We need somebody to figure out what we can do.”
She’s also concerned about Bill 23, the More Homes Built Faster Act and what it will mean for both lands around the reserve and community members. She’s also worried about the revamping of the land transfer to reserve process and how that could affect Six Nations ability to grow and provide more land to community members to stem the housing crisis.
“We really need to get on the ball here with this,” she said.
Councillor Hazel Johnson suggested using band owned lands to build homes on, much like other housing.
Elected Chief Mark Hill said it’s already in the works and the chief’s office and CEO Darrin Jamieson are looking into the issue.
“Darrin alluded to the fact of an Infrastructure Task Force for looking into what we want to accomplish. It should start hitting the ground in the springtime on some initiatives. There’s many things, many moving parts to this,” he said.
He also said Six Nations needs to make sure the AFN and Chiefs of Ontario know Six Nations will be going its own way when it comes to a housing authority.
Miller is also wary of Minister of Indigenous Services Patty Hajdu’s statement that her department is looking into “alternative governance for First Nations.”
“I caught that, what does she mean, alternative governance? What are they doing? I wonder if that’s not the reason [Minister of Crown Indigenous Services] Mark Miller snuck down and met with the Haudenosaunee Chiefs Confederacy Council and if that has something to do with that,” she said. “It’s up to us what kind of governance we have.”

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