The Ontario government is providing more than $800,000 to create two affordable housing units in Barrie that will help people in the Indigenous community.
At a news conference Thursday morning in front of the Spirit Catcher, Associate Minister of Housing Michael Parsa and other dignitaries announced the $835,000 purchase of a duplex in the city’s downtown.
The house will be operated by the Barrie Native Friendship Centre (BNFC) and the organization’s executive director, Samantha Kinoshameg, says it's a "great start" to address housing issues in the city.
“I’m excited for this because it comes from a discussion the BNFC had in 2018, which detailed three issues we face in our community," she told BarrieToday. "We have a food shortage issue, an opioid issue and a housing issue. This is one house with two livable units in it, but even being one house, it is a great start and allows us to see where we need more after this and how to do it.”
The unit already exists and won’t need to be built. While the exact location is being kept under wraps for now, Kinoshameg said it was “close to downtown.”
Parsa said Indigenous people looking for supportive housing "often struggle to find culturally appropriate accommodations that meet their unique needs.”
Parsa told BarrieToday he was excited to see the project moving forward.
“We have to do more and more of these across the province," he said. "This is an exciting announcement for all of us, but it's an important announcement, as well. We are in a housing deficit and we made a commitment to Ontarians to build 1.5 million homes in the next 10 years.”
Through a partnership between the Ontario Aboriginal Housing Services and the BNFC, officials say this investment will help provide better, safer and secure access to housing to more Indigenous people who need it.
The house was acquired through an acquisition of a residential property that was fully renovated. Its main-floor unit has three bedrooms, and the secondary basement unit has two bedrooms. They will be used for tenants who are Indigenous and/or families at risk of homelessness or who are currently under-housed, and people fleeing domestic violence are also eligible. Officials say rents will be affordable and include utilities.
As highlighted in Ontario’s Action Plan: Protecting People’s Health and Our Economy, today’s announcement is part of the province’s Social Services Relief Fund, which the province says has provided more than $1.2 billion of support throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to help municipal service managers and Indigenous program partners create longer-term housing solutions and help vulnerable Ontarians, including those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
Today’s announcement comes on the heels of another announcement earlier this week where the Ontario government committed more than $2.5 million to help create units at the Tiffin Street Supportive Housing Project, located at the corner of Innisfil Street.