Saskatoon, feds spending $7.5M to create affordable housing for Indigenous people

The City of Saskatoon and the federal government are spending $7.5 million to create 32 affordable units between two buildings under the expanded Rapid Housing Initiative (RHI).

All the units are being made to support Indigenous people and nine of the units will be for Indigenous women and their children, a news release from the city said.

The first building for Cress Housing Corporation will be at 115 Columbian Place and the building for the Central Urban Metis Federation Inc. will be located at 1520 19th St. W.

The announcement was made Friday afternoon during a virtual Zoom press conference.

Saskatoon Tribal Council (STC) Chief Mark Arcand says he was overwhelmed with joy when he heard the news.

He says the city has a high rate of homelessness and that RHI is a stepping stone investment to help more people that are in need.

“But along with that need of housing comes all the mental health and addiction support and that kind of stuff that’s really important on the trauma side, because we know a lot of Indigenous people, they’ve been affected by residential schools,” Arcand said during the conference.

Arcand says STC plans for a two-storey 18-unit facility that will house single men who are disproportionately represented in the homeless population.

The building will be located in the core area of Saskatoon that is close to the STC House Centre Services where people can access the needle exchange program, elder services and other programs that will "help make a difference in people's lives," Arcand said.

Shirley Isbister with Central Urban Metis Foundation Inc. (CUMFI) says homes with many bedrooms are a major need in the city as Indigenous families often have many children.

“It’s a huge day for us and to be a part of the upcoming housing and to be able to know what we’re going to be securing and building the homes for Indigenous people,” Isbister said.

“It’s in the core area of Saskatoon and we work with so many families so this is going to be an amazing step in this community.”

Both projects are expected to be completed by November 2022.