200th First Nation Joins the First Nations Market Housing Fund

Ottawa, December 10, 2015 — The Chair of the First Nations Market Housing Fund (the Fund), John Beaucage, announced today that the Fund has received its 200th application from a First Nation embracing market-based housing. The Tsal’alh Band (Seton Lake Indian Band) located in British Columbia added its name to the more than thirty percent of First Nations working with the Fund. Two more First Nations — Kwanlin Dün in the Yukon and the Sechelt Indian Band in British Columbia join the list of First Nations partners approved for the Fund’s Credit Enhancement facility and Capacity Building program.

“Choosing to work with the Fund demonstrates a First Nation’s commitment to its citizens and self-sufficiency — enabling citizens to own a home on their own land. Just two and a half years ago we celebrated 100 First Nations who had made this choice — this doubling is remarkable” said Mr. Beaucage.

The Fund is a registered not-for-profit trust that was born out of what has become known as the Kelowna Accord. Market-based housing is an increasingly important local economic development tool, and helps free up housing resources for those in greatest need. “This is what we envisioned when we developed the Kelowna Accord - now we know it works!” stated Mr. Beaucage, former co-chair of the First Nations’ Roundtable on Infrastructure and Housing that developed options for more than a year leading up to Kelowna.

“Tsal’alh is very much looking forward to working with the First Nations Market Housing Fund, to assist us in the development of a supporting administrative structure, as well as give our members options for sustainable housing” said Chief Larry Casper of the Tsal’alh Band. “The timing is right for this investment, as we anticipate more of our members looking to return home to benefit from our economic development opportunities with BC Hydro. Housing is key to supporting this growth, and we look toward to planning for the long term wellbeing of our members, families and community.”

“Kwanlin Dün’s goal is that every citizen who wants to own or rent a home can. Our partnership in the First Nations Market Housing Fund provides additional homeownership options for our citizens to obtain greater self-sufficiency,” said Chief, Doris Bill. “The fund provides flexibility for citizens that qualify, an alternative to other financial institutions at reasonable rates, and an opportunity for citizens to increase their personal financial management literacy,” expressed Chief Doris Bill of the Kwanlin Dün First Nation.

Calvin Craigan, Chief of the Sechelt Indian Band (shíshálh Nation) stated “one of our nation’s primary goals is to develop a housing strategy for our nation whereby everyone has equal opportunity to own their home. The vision of our elders and past leaders is to create a sustainable and prosperous nation where each member has the disposable income to qualify for their own mortgage. We feel the First Nations Market Housing Fund will assist our members to make this a reality.”

So far, 84 First Nations have been approved for the Fund’s Credit Enhancement program. These approvals amass potential credit of $775 million partially backed by the Fund to support an estimated 5,000 loans for individuals to build, buy or renovate a home on reserve, settlement lands or lands set aside. These First Nations are also working with the Fund’s capacity building program to strengthen their abilities to implement and sustain market-based housing.

The First Nations Market Housing Fund

The Fund is an innovative initiative established by the Government of Canada, through Canada Mortgage Housing Corporation (CMHC), to give First Nation citizens greater access to home loans in First Nations communities. The Fund became operational in May 2008.

The federal government made a one-time investment of $300 million in the Fund. This investment, held in trust, has the potential to leverage $3 billion in investments in homes on reserve and on settlement lands and lands set aside for First Nations across Canada.

It is completely voluntary for First Nations to make use of the market-based fund. The Fund recognizes the uniqueness of First Nation communities and works with them on their own timelines to provide them with the choice and flexibility they need to provide viable housing options.

The Fund has partnered with fourteen financial institutions to serve First Nations across the country.

The Fund helps First Nation communities by:

  • Providing a 10% backstop for housing loans guaranteed by the First Nation;
  • Providing financial leverage to negotiate with lenders for the best possible loan terms and conditions;
  • Strengthening First Nation communities and supporting increased self-sufficiency by providing financial literacy and financial management tools, enhancing the governance framework and developing capacity with education, information and innovative services.
For more information, please visit the Fund’s website at www.fnmhf.ca.

Media Contacts:

First Nations Market Housing Fund
Deborah Taylor
Executive Director
613-740-9931

Tsal’alh Band
Larry Casper
Chief
250-259-8227

Kwanlin Dün First Nation
Marie-Louise Boylan
Communications Manager
867-633-7835

Sechelt Indian Band (shíshálh Nation)
Michael Morgan
Communications Director
604-885-2273

Backgrounder

A Snapshot of the First Nations Market Housing Fund’s latest Partners

Tsal’alh Band (Seton Lake Indian Band)

St’át’imc - Tsal’alhmec, The People of the Lake, that have lived and thrived along the lake since time immemorial, are located in a semi-isolated, remote area at the most central/northern point of the St’át’imc Territory along the shores of Seton and Anderson Lake. As one of the 11 St’át’imc communities within the St’át’imc Territory they have always had a close relationship with the land and collective stewardship responsibility that is very important to the Tsal’alhmec. They understand and respectfully acknowledge the legacy that their ancestors have left them, and with their guidance they will continue to live their culture and traditions for generations to come.

Today as St’at’imc - Tsal’alhmec membership is 681 and growing strong, with approximately 320 members who live on reserve. The community has its own pre-school, elementary school, high school, health centre, fire hall and an elder’s complex. They also have a gas bar, RV Park, sawmill, and produce many fine arts and crafts, in addition to being the main Internet Service Provider in the area.

Tsal’alh is very busy in developing a new Hotel, new band office, additions to school, daycare facility, Housing and infrastructure. The Nation’s housing portfolio consisting of approximately 60 houses being rented, and about 50 band-member owned homes. Because of the increase in demand for housing, alternatives are currently being explored such as row housing, in-law suites and single family units. Tsal’alh is looking forward to working with the Fund as they advance their plans for these initiatives.

Kwanlin Dün First Nation

Kwanlin Dün (KDFN) is a self-governing Yukon First Nation with settlement land within its traditional territory in and around Whitehorse, Yukon. Its citizenship consists of 1,000-plus citizens who are descendants of First Nations people from many parts of Yukon and Alaska. They have occupied the land and thrived along the Yukon River for generations. The majority of citizens live in the Whitehorse area, with others situated across Canada, Alaska and the world. The name Kwanlin means “water running through canyon”, referring to the flow from Miles Canyon to the Whitehorse rapids.

 As part of its Final Agreement, Kwanlin Dün received 1,041.5 square kilometres of settlement land within its traditional territory, which encompasses the Yukon's capital and economic heartland. KDFN is the largest landowner within the City of Whitehorse. Nearly 75 percent of the Yukon's total population lives within KDFN's traditional territory, thus creating significant opportunities for Kwanlin Dün to become a leader, particularly through housing development.

KDFN is one of the first Canadian urban First Nations to sign Final and Self-Government Agreements. The government recently celebrated a 10-year milestone as a self-governing First Nation. The Kwanlin Dün government has worked diligently on building its internal capacity to manage the challenges and opportunities created through its Final and Self-Government Agreements. Successfully implementing the agreements is for the well-being of all citizens and is creating a revival of Kwanlin Dün First Nation traditions, culture and way of life.

Among its current housing portfolio, the Government of Kwanlin Dün manages a diverse housing stock with approximately 235 rental properties with tenant leases; there are also a few privately owned homes built by citizens. With the backing of the First Nations Market Housing Fund, KDFN has potential to expand homeownership options that will enable its citizens to renovate, rent-to-own, purchase, or develop new homes on its settlement lands.

Sechelt Indian Band (shíshálh Nation)

It has been almost 30 years since the Sechelt Indian Band (SIB) Self-Government Act and Constitution came into force in 1986. The Constitution sets the SIB land regime, requirements for membership, Council elections, law-making and referendum processes and standards of SIB governance including financial management.

The shíshálh Nation encompasses a territory of 1,031 hectares and is spread over thirty-three separate and small reserves. There is a current membership of approximately 1,380 with almost half living on shíshálh Nation lands. There almost 200 housing units primarily located in and around the main Sechelt lands located 50 km northwest of Vancouver and a number of properties leased to approximately 500 non-members including a gated community for which property taxes are collected. Housing units for members of the SIB includes ownership, rentals, and elder units. There are also two mobile home parks

SIB’s housing program is managed by the Sechelt Housing Authority established by way of a Declaration of Trust in 1980. With 68% homeownership in the community, the community is working with the Fund to continue its success in reducing housing arrears, renewing and updating housing policies, housing management structure and facilitating member education on financial planning, budgeting and building credit. Continued success will result in increased market housing options for membership, including home ownership, rental units and renovation loans for individual home owners.