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Study finds urban Indigenous people have unique housing needs

The Dze L’Kant Friendship Centre is shining light on the unique housing needs of urban Indigenous people living in the community after it released a housing study.

This study focuses on the areas of Smithers, Telkwa, Houston and surrounding communities.

It was conducted in late 2021 and early 2022 where the Friendship Centre heard from more than 200 people who had a range of lived experiences and perspectives on housing and homelessness.

The report found that 21% of survey participants did not have a permanent home with 31 of them experiencing homelessness.

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Meanwhile, 54% of those who took part in the survey rented with 25% owning their own home.

The study found eight key themes the lack of affordable and available housing, displacement, discrimination and racism, poor rental conditions, homelessness, colonial trauma and the need for culturally safe Indigenous-led housing and supports.

Additionally, this report found that 68% of participants cannot afford their rent or mortgage with 56% of people having to leave their home community to find affordable housing.

Meanwhile, 33% of participants reported that discrimination and racism was a key challenge to accessing housing and 40% of participants are at risk for eviction.

Lastly, the report found that 93% of participants would make use of culturally safe supports and services.

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Friendship Centre staff said that this will create a deeper understanding of the critical need for more affordable housing investments and highlights the importance of Indigenous led approaches to Indigenous housing and support.

It was funded through the Homeless Community Action Grant program in partnership with Plan54 Consulting and Social Planning as well as Research Council of BC.

The full report can be found on the Friendship Centre’s website.

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