Housing is the cornerstone of any vibrant, healthy community. Providing suitable, affordable shelter should be the mandate of any responsible government. To fulfil that goal the Hupacasath Housing Policy seeks to address housing matters and opportunities for all of its members. In 2005 and 2007 Hupacasath addressed housing needs by providing 12 ‘fixed rent’ family and elders units on the Ahahswinis Reserve. A lack of Band-owned land, and challenges in acquiring additional land have hampered financially-capable members from accessing housing opportunities for some time.
Recognizing this hurtle, Hupacasath Council set a goal under last year’s operational plan to actively work with community members throughout 2014 to find solutions and was able to complete this goal in early April 2015. The solution; accessing land at a fair price, to provide more market housing opportunities according to the Band’s membership-approved Housing Policy which will proceed this year.
Currently, 190 members live off-reserve in Port Alberni or other communities. The remaining 121 members live on Ahahswinis or Kleehkoot reserve lands. Hupačasath First Nation (HFN) bought property on Ahahswinis Reserve #1 located near the corner of Josephine and River Road from Hupačasath member Daniel Watts. Mr. Watts worked with Council to achieve an opportunity to begin addressing members already on the housing list with the ability to proceed under the Band-approved Housing Policy.
Mr. Watts was happy to contribute to the community, and market housing is a great way to move forward, so both parties worked to achieve a fair, responsible agreement. There is room on the site for four or five housing lots, to be divided and distributed according to the Housing Programs Policies. The land for this project is in an excellent location with easy access to all servicing for water/sewer and hydro – making this location the ideal option for additional housing.
But this isn’t the end of the housing story. The Council has announced that it will continue to pursue other housing opportunities on the Kleehkoot reserve in the near future, to ensure that safe and suitable housing options are available for all HFN members.
This acquisition is the perfect example of how we can work together as a Nation to provide opportunities for our members and it is a step in the right direction toward building positive relationships between property owners and Hupačasath First Nation. The next steps will be to finalize the lot’s sizes and the requirements for moving forward with eligible applicants on the housing list.