~ For Immediate Release ~
June 21, 2021
On National Indigenous Peoples Day, the Dze L K’ant Housing Society is pleased to announce that our proposed 23-unit Indigenous housing project, for elders and families in Smithers, BC., has been selected by BC Housing to proceed.
The multi-family housing development will be funded by BC Housing’s provincial Community Housing Fund, and will be located on traditional unceded Gidim’ten (Cas Yikh) Territory at 10th avenue at Main Street, Smithers, a municipally owned site.
Affordable housing for urban Indigenous people has been a key strategic priority for the Dze L K‘ant Friendship Centre in the past 5 years. In 2018 the organization hired a housing advisor and began a partnership with experienced development consultants Lu’ma Development Management to move these goals forward. In 2019 the Centre incorporated The Dze L K’ant Housing Society, and the organization led the community action to rezone the site at 10th and Main Street, for multi-family developments.
Andrew Tom, President of the Dze L K’ant Housing Society states: “Dze L K’ant Friendship Centre is at the forefront of Indigenous lead and community-based housing developments within the Bulkley Valley. Our board and staff work tirelessly to advocate for affordable housing solutions for our First Nations, Metis and Inuit clientele. We value and appreciate the many partnerships our growing organization has and continues to build upon as we work together to bridge service gaps for all.”
The new homes in Smithers for families and elders will include accessible units for elders as well as larger homes for growing families. The housing will be owned and operated by the Dze L K’ant Housing Society with operating subsidy through the province to ensure affordable rents.
The proposed project design, with a larger number of three – and four-bedroom units, is unique for BC housing projects. This design is part of the Dze L K’ant Housing Society’s culturally informed housing approach which recognizes the need to accommodate growing families and intergenerational living. “Our goal is to create affordable homes in Smithers to meet growing community need. The Dze L K’ant Housing Society’s Board and staff will be working closely with the local community, as well as those Indigenous leaders in BC who are already successfully operating Indigenous housing, to ensure our project creates a strong sense of belonging and cultural safety,” says Lydia Howard, Housing Advisor at the Dze L K’ant Housing Society.
The Dze L K’ant Housing Society wishes to acknowledge that the Town of Smithers has committed to providing a clean site for the project, at no cost to the Society. The remediation and preparation of the site is expected to be completed by the Town of Smithers by December 2021. Based on the current development schedule, construction on this project will begin in June 2022.
“I am pleased with the incredible amount of work that has been invested to support Indigenous housing in our community; and we look forward to more opportunities moving forward,” says Annette Morgan, Executive Director, Dze L K’ant Friendship Centre Society.
The Dze L K’ant Housing Society gratefully acknowledges the ongoing support received from Lu’ma Development Management, BC Housing, the Aboriginal Housing Management Association and the Town of Smithers. We also wish to recognize the many local leaders, organizations and community members who have written letters of support and spoken out about the growing need for affordable and safe rental housing in our community.
Media contact: Annette Morgan, Dze L K’ant Friendship Centre Phone: 250-847-5211
More information: http://www.dzelkant.com/dze-l-kant-housing-society/