Six Nations celebrates new housing build

Six Nations celebrated the build of a five-unit housing complex in the village on Tuesday with promises of a second housing unit to follow.

The building, known as Onondaga One, is nearing completion on Harold Read, just off of Fourth Line Road near the village of Ohsweken, with another complex, called Onondaga Two, under construction.

Funding for the project came from the Six Nations Economic Development Trust and Indigenous Services Canada.

Ken Lancaster, board member for Habitat Canada, said their organization recognizes legacy of colonialism and discrimination that has led to the increased barriers for accessing affordable housing for Indigenous people.

He said Habitat Canada created an Indigenous Housing partnership in 2007 to help communities like Six Nations build housing solutions for Indigenous communities.

The program recently expanded to include the building of tiny homes for emergencies as well as housing rehabilitation, and water and sanitation infrastructure.

Since its inception in 2007, the program has partnered with over 300 Indigenous families across Canada to build homes both on and off (reserve).

As of 2023, there were over 400 people waiting for housing on Six Nations.

Six Nations Housing said that the partnership with Habitat for Humanity will help in its quest to provide more homes for community members coming back home, because Six Nations just doesn’t have enough funding to meet the needs of the community.

“We have a crisis here and we need help,” says Lily-Ann Mt. Pleasant, director of Six Nations Housing.

The community is seeing a lot of Six Nations members wanting to return to the reserve.

“With the cost of living rising in big cities, we’re seeing a lot of people wanting to come back home. We’re in a real crisis right now. We don’t have enough housing for the people already on the reserve. With the (influx) of people coming back, it’s been really tough to keep up with that demand. But with partnerships like this…it allows us to stretch our funding, cause we are lacking funding. There isn’t enough to sustain us. Habitat is really instrumental in being able to do more with less.”

Six Nations Housing, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity Hamilton and Habitat Heartland, says the new complex, named Onondaga 1, will provide safe and affordable rental options for families at Six Nations.

Construction started last December. Its central location close to the village of Ohsweken helps new tenants who lack access to transportation get their necessities.

“We don’t have a lot of public transportation here, so it’s really instrumental, having people live in the village,” said Mt. Pleasant.

The units are targeting single parents. And with the cost of rent on Six Nations about half of the cost off-reserve, the reserve is attracting a lot of members wanting to return home.

The project has been in the works for about 10 years.

The end units are two bedrooms and the middle three are three-bedroom units.

There was a plan to build six of those complexes, said Mt. Pleasant, but having enough land is a big issue, she said, so council and housing are looking at building more medium to high-density units to make maximum use of available land on the reserve.

Habitat for Humanity Hamilton and Habitat for Humanity Heartland are partnering with the Six Nations of the Grand River to help bring the Onondaga 1 build to life. Onondaga 1 is an innovative five-unit housing project that aims to provide safe and affordable rental options for families within the Six Nations of the Grand River.

The need for affordable housing on the Six Nations of the Grand River has been steadily growing and is now in very high demand. This initiative is a positive step in addressing that need, by providing options for families who are looking for comfortable and sustainable living spaces, but may face challenges

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