Dettah, not Behchokǫ̀, will get new Habitat for Humanity N.W.T. house

·3 min read

A Habitat for Humanity N.W.T. home originally planned for Behchokǫ̀ will now be built for a family in Dettah.

This year, the charity is completing two builds in one year for the first time. It's also the first time Habitat for Humanity has partnered with an Indigenous government to build a home outside Yellowknife.

Dave Hurley, president of Habitat for Humanity N.W.T., said the group “isn’t forgetting about the community of Behchokǫ̀” but challenges made the build impossible this year.

“I think we’ll go back and talk to the band and the community and hopefully do a build there, whether it be next year or the year after,” Hurley said.

Instead, a family in Dettah will receive the keys to a three-bedroom mobile home that comfortably fits a family of four or five, he said.

Another build in Yellowknife is also going ahead, with a family soon to be selected for that property.

Jason Snaggs, chief executive of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation, said the Habitat for Humanity N.W.T. project will align with the First Nation’s housing strategy.

The chosen family will contribute 500 hours of "sweat equity" in the form of helping to build the home or volunteering in the community.

“They share the same goal as us," said Snaggs of Habitat for Humanity. "They share our principles when it comes to having people participate in the building and the construction of their own homes, and at the same time feel a sense of ownership when it comes to owning their home."

After the keys are handed over, the family will enter into a mortgage with Habitat for Humanity NWT capped at no more than 30 per cent of their gross yearly income.

Chief of Behchokǫ̀ Clifford Daniels said he had no comment on the project being moved to another community but “understands these things happen sometimes.” Daniels reiterated that housing is a major issue across the territory.

Snaggs said homeownership is the main focus of the First Nation's housing strategy but can be hard for members to achieve because of unreasonable policies, affordability, or lack of available homes.

He said the First Nation is designing a governance structure, policies, and management team to put the strategy into action.

According to Snaggs, a recent survey conducted in the community found Dettah and Ndilǫ both have “essentially no vacancy,” which forces people to either move into a crowded space or leave their community.

“In the needs assessment, we found more than 27 per cent of households in our community are crowded,” he said.

“As a result, a lot of families and individuals just can’t get housing in their home communities, so they’re forced to either look to Yellowknife or beyond. That’s away from their family supports and often in unaffordable housing markets."

The Yellowknives Dene First Nation recently received $18.8 million from the N.W.T.’s $60-million share of a federal housing fund. That money will go toward eight four-bedroom, two-bathroom houses and 11 one-bedroom apartments.

Snaggs said the First Nation hopes more federal funding will flow directly from Ottawa in future.

Sarah Sibley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Cabin Radio

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