Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs
Human Resources, Labour and Employment
October 27, 2008

Funding Announced for Off-Reserve Aboriginal Housing

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has allocated $8.2 million for the construction, repair and assessment of off-reserve Aboriginal housing throughout the province. The Honourable Patty Pottle, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, and the Honourable Shawn Skinner, Minister of Human Resources, Labour and Employment and Minister Responsible for Housing, made the announcement today in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

"This is a great day for Aboriginal people throughout Newfoundland and Labrador who will directly benefit from this funding," said Minister Pottle. "I am especially pleased to see that Aboriginal people themselves will play a key role in administering this program and ensure these funds are best used to improve the living conditions of residents. By taking responsibility for these funds and assuring their proper distribution, Aboriginal people continue to demonstrate a clear determination to claim ownership of their destiny and improve their circumstances."

This initiative is supported by federal housing trust investments announced in the 2006 budget as part of the Federal Government�s action to address the challenges confronted by Aboriginal Canadians. Six million dollars has been invested in an Off-Reserve Aboriginal Housing Repair Program to be delivered and administered by the Federation of Newfoundland Indians, the Labrador Metis Nation, the Miawpukek First Nation, and the Nunatsiavut Government, for their members. Off-reserve Aboriginal people outside these groups may apply to Newfoundland Labrador Housing for assistance.

"We thoroughly understand how vitally important it is to ensure off-reserve Aboriginal groups throughout Newfoundland and Labrador are provided with affordable housing options," said Minister Skinner. "This investment represents a significant and serious commitment to respond to the housing needs of the off-reserve Aboriginal people and to make those housing options a reality."

The Off-Reserve Aboriginal Housing Repair Program is designed to provide assistance to low-income off-reserve Aboriginal homeowners to make critical and/or emergency repairs to their homes. Aboriginal homeowners may receive grant assistance of up to $8,000 on the island and $9,500 in Labrador. Repairs may include items such as heating, electrical or plumbing systems and/or deteriorated structures, foundations, windows, doors, roofing or siding. Eligible applicants must have an annual income of less than $35,000, be owner and occupant of the house and be a member of an Aboriginal organization.

The Nunatsiavut Government has also been provided $2 million for Inuit housing in the communities of Nain, Hopedale, Makkovik, Postville and Rigolet.

Residents of the reserves of Natuashish, Sheshatshiu, and Conne River will continue to access federal funding for housing needs through Indian and Northern Affairs Canada and their band councils.

"As the MHA for Lake Melville, the funding announced today will do a great deal to improve the living conditions of Aboriginal people who reside here. This is a commitment outlined in the Northern Strategic Plan for Labrador," said the Honourable John Hickey, Minister of Labrador Affairs, who was present at today�s announcement. The minister noted that his district has the highest population of Aboriginal persons in all of Newfoundland and Labrador. "This funding will improve the wellbeing of Aboriginal people as well as help to provide economic stimulus for the retail and labour sectors of our housing industry."

In addition, Housing and the Department of Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs will jointly undertake a $200,000 Off-Reserve Aboriginal Housing Needs Assessment. They will seek proposals to conduct a comprehensive evaluation which will include a review of current needs and issues and identify projected trends in housing demand and supply over the short and long term for off-reserve Aboriginal people in the province. Housing will issue a request for proposals in the near future and it is anticipated the assessment will be completed March 2009.

Applications for the Off-Reserve Aboriginal Home Repair Program are available from the respective Aboriginal groups, or directly from Housing, as appropriate.

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Media contacts:

John Tompkins
Director of Communications
Department of Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs
709-729-1674, 728-7762
Ronalda Walsh
Director of Communications
Department of Human Resources,
Labour and Employment
709-729-0753, 699-7903
Jenny Bowring
Communications Manager
Newfoundland Labrador Housing

2008 10 27                                                    1:45 p.m.

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