Multiple Indigenous people experiencing homelessness will soon have a place to stay.
Wood Buffalo council approved on Tuesday giving over $1.1 million to the Wood Buffalo Wellness Society for the Tawâw project. Wood Buffalo Housing and the McMurray Métis are also partnering on the project.
The goal is to provide housing to 22 Indigenous people and families who’re currently homeless and are being impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There’ve been tears of joy, relief, and excitement that we as a community will truly now be able to elicit change with this program’s inception,” said Jo-Anne Packham, Wellness Society Executive Director.
Two eight-plex housing units in the Timberlea-area, owned by Wood Buffalo Housing, will be leased by the Wellness Society and McMurray Métis. After the lease is over, the two groups will take over ownership of the buildings.
Along with the apartments, one of the units will also include a common space for programming, as well as offices and meeting spaces for workers from WBWS, McMurray Métis, and partner agencies.
These housing units are expected to undergo around $500,000 worth of renovations.
“It’s important to recognize Indigenous people are home to this land but today we find some people without a home in a place they call home,” added Bryan Fayant, Disaster and Recovery Strategist with the McMurray Métis.
“We all agree each person deserves a proper place to live.”
Despite being able to house 22 individuals, 51 residents are currently waiting to be placed in a community plan on homelessness projects.
Fayant adds these units aren’t meant to be permanent homes and they’ll be able to bring in more people as others leave.
“We’re going to do everything possible to make these people successful… they need to be committed, they need to want to get on their feet.”
Throughout the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, CPH projects have been able to help house 85 individuals.
Meanwhile, the funding is coming from the federal government through the ‘Reaching Home’ initiative.
This is the second wave of funds the region has received through the program. Back in April, council distributed around $745,000 to the Wellness Society, YMCA of Northern Alberta, and Salvation Army.