BRANTFORD — Brantford just got funding for four tiny homes to help with the city’s homelessness crisis, but the city has yet to address the lack of housing for its Indigenous population.
The federal government announced last week it was providing $200,000 for a tiny housing project on Stirton Street that will consist of four, 300 sq. foot self-contained housing units.
And even though the city is facing a housing crisis – with over 1,700 households on a waiting list for affordable housing – no funding has been provided for Indigenous people, who make up roughly 10 per cent of the population in Brantford.
That’s despite Ontario announcing $1.5 billion in funding to help alleviate housing issues in the province.
Liberal MP Adam Vaughan, parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Family, Children and Social Development, and Conservative MPP Will Bouma both said during the funding announcement last week that Covid-19 has made the province’s pre-existing housing crisis even worse.
“We know the impact Covid is having on the most vulnerable people in our communities, including those who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless,” said Bouma.
They hope to work with federal and municipal partners to find specific solutions for Indigenous housing in Brantford.
“I look forward to working with the city on that,” said Bouma.
Brantford Mayor Kevin Davis said the city identified affordable housing as one of its top three priorities during a special council meeting last fall.
“The reality is that 10 per cent of our population is Indigenous by background,” said Davis. “We are in discussions with aboriginal housing – there are some projects we are considering. It’s very much in the early planning stages that would be more intended towards indigenous housing.”
Bouma said the project takes advantage of the tiny home trend, which allows for more cost-efficient construction.
“If we are to tackle Ontario’s housing crisis, then we need to look to innovative solutions like tiny homes and modular housing. We’re tailoring our approach for different categories of housing providers, including Indigenous Housing providers, smaller providers with capacity challenges, and larger ones who are further along in their planning…to ensure that all providers get the help that they need.”
Mayor Davis said affordable housing is a “pressing need” in Brantford.
“The need for affordable housing in our community has never been greater and exacerbated by the pandemic. Even before this pandemic, we had over 1,700 households on our community housing waitlist.
MP Vaughan said the federal government committed to a national housing strategy to intentionally house Indigenous families in last fall’s throne speech.
The strategy has yet to materialize in Brantford but “we’re firmly committed to it,” said Vaughan.