Lydia Howard of the Dze L ‘Kant Friendship Centre spoke to the District of Houston council Feb. 5 about housing opportunities. (Smithers Interior News photo)

Social services society outlines opportunities

Identifies need for safe, secure housing in the area

A Smithers-based social services society has started what one of its employees terms a conversation on opportunities for more safe and secure housing in Houston.

“It was about how communities can be proactive,” said Lydia Howard of a presentation made by the Dze L K’ant Friendship Centre to the District of Houston council Feb. 5 on the growing involvement of senior governments to provide money for affordable housing.

The friendship centre offers social services in Houston, Smithers and Dease Lake and has now partnered with a lower mainland-based housing society to explore housing options for Indigenous peoples.

And although the senior governments will supply money, a key requirement to a successful application is to either lease land from a municipality or have purchased it at a price lower than market value.

“The provincial government recently announced plans to invest $355 million to create more than 2,000 affordable rental units across B.C. in the next five years,” Howard’s presentation to council stated.

“We believe that given the identified need in our community, we must seize these opportunities.”

Dze L’Kant’s housing partner, Lu’ma Development Management, is itself a partnership between the Lu’ma Native Housing Society which has housing units in 14 buildings on the lower mainland and Terra Housing, a real estate firm.

Although there were no statistics specific to Houston identified in the presentation, it did note that 72 per cent of the 29 homeless people surveyed in Smithers in April 2018 were Indigenous.

It also noted that province-wide surveys have found that high rents, income that’s too low and unavailability of suitable housing are key factors to proper housing.

“Research states that youth and women are more likely to couch surf or life in unsafe conditions to avoid street homelessness,” the presentation continued.

The District of Houston has already taken steps toward one request made by the friendship centre and that’s for a housing needs assessment.

“Our application for $10,000 of rural dividend funding to support the development of a housing needs assessment was recently approved, and council will be considering a final funding request for this project to include it in the financial plan for 2019-2023,” said District of Houston chief administrative officer Gerald Pinchbeck.

Housing needs forecasts are now to be required as part of a municipality’s official community plan.

The potential for the District to partner with the friendship centre in an affordable housing project, should the need for it be established, is also a possibility, said Pinchbeck, although the district has not made a firm commitment.

“This could involve site identification and acquisition, as well as accessing BC Housing funding for the development of affordable housing,” he said.

Just Posted

All Nations Driving Academy gets $360K boost from province

Terrace-based driving school bridges gap in services for remote northwest B.C. communities

Skeena Watershed reopened for recreational pink and coho

Four sections and tributaries remain closed

Skeena-Bulkley Valley candidates react to finding Trudeau broke ethics law

The election campaign is heating up before the writ has even dropped

Burns Lake golfers to help end world hunger

Burns Lake residents will bring together charity and golf at the Grip… Continue reading

Houston area ski club proposes new community forest

Morice Mountain has ‘huge untapped potential’

QUIZ: How much do you remember about Woodstock?

Weekend music festival in Bethel, New York, was held 50 years ago

Advocates ‘internationalize’ the fight to free Raif Badawi from Saudi prison

Raif Badawi was arrested on June 17, 2012, and was later sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in jail for his online criticism of Saudi clerics

RCMP, search crews hunt for 4-year-old boy missing near Mackenzie

George went missing early Saturday afternoon

Canadian entrepreneurs turning beer byproduct into bread, cookies and profits

Some breweries turn to entrepreneurs looking to turn spent grain into treats for people and their pets

Canada ‘disappointed’ terror suspect’s British citizenship revoked

Jack Letts, who was dubbed “Jihadi Jack” by the U.K. media, has been detained in a Kurdish prison for about two years

Chrystia Freeland condemns violence in Hong Kong, backs right to peaceful assembly

There have been months of protests in the semi-autonomous region

B.C. VIEWS: Log exports and my other errors so far in 2019

Plastic bags, legislature overspending turn out differently

Most Read