GTA Aboriginal Housing Program

Aboriginal Rental Program-GTA

TORONTO, April 20 /CNW/ - Miziwe Biik Development Corporation (MBDC) is pleased to announce the approval of $3.73 million to Nishnawbe Homes Inc. of Toronto for the development of a 32-unit housing project. This project will provide affordable rental housing for Aboriginal families, singles and seniors in downtown Toronto. Construction will start in the fall of 2010 and the first tenants are scheduled to move in by December 2011.

Nishnawbe Homes has provided affordable rental housing to Aboriginal people in the GTA since 1984 and currently houses over 150 people. Nishnawbe Homes was the lead partner in the GTA Aboriginal Housing Community Consultation that was undertaken in 2008 and involved approximately 1,000 participants.

The GTA is home to over 75,000 First Nations, Métis and Inuit people.

"We are happy to work in partnership with Nishnawbe Homes on this very exciting and much-needed project," said Nancy Martin, President of MBDC. "Our community members are among the most inadequately housed in the GTA and this project will assist many of them to improve their living conditions."

"Nishnawbe Homes is pleased to be the first project to access funds from the GTA Aboriginal Housing Program administered by MBDC," commented John March, President of Nishnawbe Homes Inc. "This new project will give us the opportunity to assist members of our community needing somewhere to live and raise their families in safe, secure, affordable housing".

"Our government and Aboriginal communities, working in partnership, are launching a remarkable housing program to help off-reserve families throughout Ontario," said Jim Bradley, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. "By investing in prosperity for Aboriginal people, we are building stronger communities and providing a higher quality of life for all Ontarians."

The Aboriginal Rental Program (ARP) is a $13.4 million component of the GTA Aboriginal Housing Program administered by MBDC through an Administration Agreement with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. These funds come from the Off-Reserve Aboriginal Housing Trust transferred from the federal government to the Province a number of years ago.

The ARP provides interest-free, forgivable loans to non-profit Aboriginal service providers, or to partnerships between Aboriginal service providers and the private sector to create new affordable rental housing under Aboriginal control.

The GTA Aboriginal Housing Program delivers two other programs. The Downpayment Loan Program offers interest-free loans to enable Aboriginal people to improve their socio-economic status by becoming homeowners. The Home Repair Program provides loans to low to moderate income Aboriginal homeowners for home repairs, barrier-free/accessibility modifications and/or energy-efficiency improvements and upgrades. Details of all programs are available on the MBDC website at www.mbdc.ca.

    

                                 BACKGROUNDER
    

Miziwe Biik Development Corporation (MBDC) was established in 2004 by Miziwe Biik Aboriginal Employment and Training. The mission of MBDC is to serve as a vehicle to facilitate the economic advancement and self-sufficiency of the Aboriginal community in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). To this end, MBDC engages in activities that focus on access to business development and training, business loans/grants, home ownership, affordable housing and other initiatives.

The Off-Reserve Aboriginal Housing Trust Fund

In 2006, the federal government announced $300 million for an Off-Reserve Aboriginal Housing Trust that would later be transferred to provinces across Canada to assist with addressing the housing needs of Aboriginal people living off-reserve. For Ontario, this amount totaled $80 million, of which $20 million was targeted to the GTA.

In March 2007, Ontario announced that the province's Off-Reserve Aboriginal Housing Trust would be allocated in partnership with Aboriginal communities across Ontario.

Nishnawbe Homes was the lead partner in an extensive GTA community consultation in 2008 that sought to determine how best to utilize the funds for the GTA off-reserve community. Approximately 1000 people participated in the consultation. The groups that partnered with Nishnawbe Homes included Toronto Council Fire, Miziwe Biik Aboriginal Employment and Training, Chiefs of Ontario and the Wellesley Institute. The final report from the community consultation was delivered to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing in June 2008. (www.mbdc.ca).

In 2009, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing and MBDC signed an Administration Agreement enabling MBDC to administer the $20 million fund under the GTA Aboriginal Housing Program.

Aboriginal Rental Program-(ARP-GTA)

The ARP-GTA is a $13.4 million component of the larger $20 million GTA Aboriginal Housing Program.

Aboriginal Services Providers (ASPs) seeking funding under the ARP-GTA must identify how the following four principles, established through the GTA Aboriginal Community Housing Consultation, will be reflected during construction and ongoing operation of their projects once completed:

    
    -   Aboriginal housing under Aboriginal control,
    -   Full and proper accountability of public funds,
    -   Full transparency in the project/applicant selection process, and
    -   Administrative efficiency.
    

The ARP-GTA provides interest-free, forgivable loans to non-profit ASPs, or partnerships between private sector and non-profit ASPs, for the purpose of creating new affordable rental accommodation. Funds are provided to help offset the cost of building or purchasing new rental units, with the amount of funding ranging from $110,000 per unit to $150,000 per unit, based on unit size, up to a maximum of $4.4 million dollars per project.

The units to be created under the ARP-GTA must be targeted to Aboriginal households living off-reserve and within the GTA, and who are on, or eligible to be on, an existing social housing waiting list.

The new units must be self-contained with private kitchen and bathroom facilities. The projects can take the form of either townhouse or apartment structure and may include new construction or the conversion of a non-residential structure to a residential structure. Funding may also be provided for the acquisition and rehabilitation/conversion of existing rental buildings (purpose built rental or condominium), but only in situations where the existing building is vacant.

To find out more about the Aboriginal Rental Program-GTA please contact:

    
    Mitra Maharaj
    Program Director
    GTA Aboriginal Housing Program
    Miziwe Biik Development Corporation
    416.640.4683
    Email: mitra.maharaj@mbdc.ca
    

SOURCE MIZIWE BIIK DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION

For further information: For further information: Media Contact: Mitra Maharaj, Program Director, GTA Aboriginal Housing Program, Miziwe Biik Development Corporation, Tel: (416) 640-4683, E-mail: mitra.maharaj@mbdc.ca, Web site: www.mbdc.ca; To find out more about the Aboriginal Rental Program-GTA please contact: Mitra Maharaj, Program Director, GTA Aboriginal Housing Program, Miziwe Biik Development Corporation, (416) 640-4683, Email: mitra.maharaj@mbdc.ca

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MIZIWE BIIK DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION

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