Housing: Housing Engagement Update

May 30, 2023

URNI Housing Strategy Engagement

The final report on the Urban, Rural, and Northern Indigenous (URNI) Housing Strategy will be released at the end of May or early June. The report includes suggestions on the vision, scope, focus, approaches, investment priorities, and special considerations for distinct subgroups and regions. The principles that should guide this housing strategy are: affordability, safety, family, Indigenous cultures with a distinctions-based approach, accessibility, and connections to home.

The report not only suggests how to co-develop and co-implement the strategy. It offers timelines and priorities, and provides key recommendations and priorities.

The report emphasizes the importance of:

  • building trust with Indigenous Peoples
  • consulting further
  • decolonializing housing terminology
  • recognizing holistic needs
  • providing reliable high-speed internet service as a necessity for all housing
  • providing community supports
  • fostering Indigenous-led policy making to provide more funding for housing and housing supports
  • creating Indigenous-specific incentives, programs, and financial instruments to make housing more affordable and available (especially in rural and Northern regions)
  • funding Indigenous organizations to build culturally appropriate, accessible housing
  • creating Indigenous housing navigators

Funded by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), the URNI Housing Strategy report is based on a literature review, the findings of a national survey, and input received through four community engagement Sharing Circles, which took place between February 27 and March 16, 2023.

To increase opportunities for grassroots sharing and feedback, NWAC took a new approach to these Sharing Circles. This new format included a link to a short Google Form survey, which gave participants a chance to reflect on, and share more thoughts about, the Sharing Circle questions posed at the engagement session.

Those who may not feel comfortable contributing in group settings had another opportunity to have their voices heard as a result of this addition to the Sharing Circles format. 

This format also increases accessibility for those who have technological difficulties or who may benefit from having more time to reflect before providing their views.

Engagement on Adequate Housing for Indigenous Two-Spirit, Transgender, Non-Binary, and Gender-Diverse+ Peoples

NWAC is working on a project supported by the Office of the Federal Housing Advocate (OFHA) at the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC). This project advocates for the housing needs of Indigenous Two-Spirit, Transgender, Non-Binary, and Gender-Diverse+ (2STNBGD+) Peoples, including those who experience homelessness and housing precarity.

In all areas of life, Indigenous 2STNBGD+ individuals face additional layers of discrimination through racism, heterosexism, cisnormativity—which is the assumption that people identify with the sex assigned at birth—as well as further stereotyping associated with these biases (see “Native American Two Spirit and LGBTQ Health: A Systematic Review of the Literature”). These barriers include securing safe access to housing and housing-related services.

The Women’s National Housing and Homelessness Network recognized that “Gender-Diverse+, Two-Spirit, and Trans people face significant, intersecting, human rights violations when it comes to housing and accessing emergency shelters, and are more likely to experience hidden homelessness” (see “A Portrait of Homelessness Amongst Gender-Diverse People in Canada”). The Network published a research brief entitled Housing Need & Homelessness Amongst Gender-Diverse People in Canada: A Preliminary Portrait. A literature review and practice scan accompanied this brief.

To build on this work, NWAC was commissioned by the OFHA and CHRC to work on a project entitled “Engagement on Adequate Housing for Indigenous Two-Spirit, Transgender, and Gender-Diverse+ People.” The project will inform, and provide recommendations on how to support adequate housing for Indigenous 2STNBGD+ Peoples.

Key project activities include the following:

  • produce a literature review to bring an Indigenous focus to research previously conducted about the broader 2STNBGD+ community
  • participate in and coordinate an external advisory committee to ensure this project is informed by members of the Indigenous 2STNBGD+ community with both lived and expert experience in housing and homelessness
  • host two online engagement sessions, with the intent of amplifying lived experiences that will inform policy recommendations

The first engagement session is anticipated to take place this June and will be for Indigenous 2STNBGD+ Peoples willing to share Knowledge about their experiences with homelessness and they barriers they face in accessing discrimination-free housing and housing services. In August or September, another roundtable will be held with research experts.

If you are interested in learning more about this project’s priorities, look for the literature review, which will be available on NWAC’s website/on-line library this summer.