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Seeking Community Feedback: Housing Needs and Proposed Emergency Housing

The Klahoose First Nation (KFN) is working to understand the dynamic housing landscape within our community, as evidenced by the 2015 Community Comprehensive Plan and the 2021 KFN Subdivision Feasibility Study. Klahoose leadership is reaching out to the Klahoose community to better understand housing needs and seek feedback on a potential emergency housing concept on Tork IR7.
What We Know So Far About the Current Housing Shortages:

Based on the information we have available, the current housing supply on Tork (Squirrel Cove) IR7 is experiencing pressures from overcrowding and unexpected membership population growth, which are increasing the need for an immediate emergency housing development.

Overcrowding & Lack of Housing:
A fire in 2022 lead to the destruction of 3 homes and consequent displacement of families, resulting in 3 families sharing accommodations. In 2023, there are now multiple homes exceeding the desired occupancy thresholds of 2.5 individuals per household or more occupants per bedroom than desired.

At the moment, the information we have available shows up that at least 52 homes are required by 2024 to address the existing housing demand. Only 38 homes are currently on reserve, demonstrating an immediate need for 14 homes in the community. This immediate need is coupled with a housing waitlist of at least 20 homes.

The trajectory of membership growth is well-defined by the 2015 Comprehensive Community Plan (CCP). The CCP notes that in 2014, a total of 382 KFN members were reported, including 52 residents on the Tork Reserve and 342 off-reserve members. In the same year (2014), the CCP projected the KFN population to reach 467 members by 2039, signifying an annual total membership growth rate of 0.88%. According to the AANDC website in July 2023, the Klahoose First Nation registered population is now 444 total, showing that the total membership grew at 1.69%, which is almost twice the rate that was anticipated in 2014. Furthermore, in 2021 the on-reserve population was at 91 and is projected to surge to 151 residents by 2041, implying an annual on-reserve membership growth rate of about 2.7%.

The population growth of KFN members, especially on-reserve, shows the desperate need for on-reserve housing for community members and KFN membership over the next 20 years. In addition, it also demonstrated the need for crucial services and emphasizes the accommodation requirements for professionals, including education, administration, construction, and healthcare, will escalate, thereby increasing pressure on the housing supply to include accommodations for professionals such as educators, nurses, and administrative staff.

Immediate Emergency Housing Need:
The need for emergency housing has been shared by the KFN community in the 2015 CCP and the 2021 KFN Subdivision Feasibility Study. Specifically, an immediate emergency housing development would create accommodations on reserve to:
  • Foster cultural exchange between on-reserve and off-reserve members;
  • Bridging connections and addressing challenges faced by those seeking familial reconnection;
  • Support much needed housing in the community;
  • Connect community members with their culture and traditions; and
  • House professionals and contractors to support community well-being and development.
Emergency Housing Development:

Building new homes will require the creation of fully serviced lots, equipped with essential infrastructure such as power, sewage, and water. The process, encompassing community engagement, regulatory approvals, and development, could span an estimated timeframe of 1.5 to 4 years. To address the increasing population, overcrowding, and the need for an immediate housing solution, the community leadership can look to emergency housing for an immediate solution to the lack of housing.

Emergency housing could:
1. Strengthen Community Safety: Provide options for shelter in times of emergency (fires, climate disasters, etc.), to prevent conflicts and other threats that people may experience elsewhere.
2. Enhance Support Systems: Offers a supportive environment for those in an interim place or housing options for those undergoing renovations.
3. Build Resilience: A flexible housing response mechanism that reflects our community's values would increase off-reserve membership participation in cultural events, create temporary accommodations for professionals and contractors working on projects for the community, and be used as a steppingstone to our long-term housing goals.
4. Reduce strain on Community Services: Helps to reduce the strain on community resources when supporting members in the search for lodging when visiting the community or when moving back temporarily or permanently.
5. Health & Well-being: Increased health (mental & physical) and well-being of community members who are facing overcrowding issues.

With a faster than expected population growth rate on-reserve, an immediate need for 14 homes and a housing waitlist of at least 20 homes, the urgency of the situation demands immediate action to alleviate overcrowding and accommodate community growth. Whether it's providing immediate shelter during unforeseen circumstances, supporting families during temporary stays or renovations, creating opportunities for off-reserve members to return home, or creating accommodation options for professionals and contractors who are completing work in the community, emergency housing is an essential component of our community's resilience, well-being and long-term housing needs.
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