Did you know that adequate housing was recognized in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights? Did you also know that one in five (19.4%) of Aboriginal people lived in a dwelling that was in need of major repairs in 2016? Or that In 2016, 18.3% of Aboriginal people lived in housing that was crowded?  Those stats are not for a developing country.
Those stats are for Canada, which ranked as the 24th wealthiest country in the world in 2017. In 2014, James Anaya, then-Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, noted that housing in First Nation communities “has reached a crisis level.” 
On-reserve housing situations vary from community to community. While some communities do have an adequate supply of good quality homes, that is not the norm. Generally speaking, those communities with own source revenue and high employment have good quality housing. This article is about the issues prevalent in the communities that don’t have the benefit of own-source revenue or high employment.
Some background on the federal government’s role in on-reserve housing:
“In the 1960s, what was then Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) implemented a housing program that provided subsidies to assist with home construction and renovation on reserves. A 1982 evaluation of this program concluded that by then, the federal government’s “role in the delivery of houses was … residual.” In 1996, the government developed the housing policy that is currently in place, known as the On-Reserve Housing Policy. Communities that choose not to opt in to the On-Reserve Housing Policy continue to operate under the 1960s subsidy program. Today, the federal government provides on-reserve housing support to First Nation communities primarily through funding and programs offered by AANDC and by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).
Today, the federal government provides on-reserve housing support to First Nation communities primarily through funding and programs offered by AANDC and by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).”  Note: AANDC is now Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs and Crown-Indigenous Relations
The lack of adequate on-reserve housing has many contributing factors and many repercussions. Here are 8 things you need to know about on-reserve housing issues.
1. Indigenous Peoples are the fastest growing segment of the Canadian population. The challenge of supplying housing for an expanding community puts immense pressure on band councils. The high birth rate and the shortage of housing often results in extreme overcrowding. The rate of new home construction has not kept pace with the demand. Funding allocated for housing construction is frequently redirected to repair and maintenance.
The eight issues identified here are bullet points from the larger, more complex issue of on-reserve housing. If you are interested in an in-depth look at on-reserve housing issues, please read HOUSING ON FIRST NATION RESERVES: Challenges and Successes Interim Report of the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples.
If you want to learn more about the historical and ongoing impacts of the Indian Act, we've got the book for you! Available April 2018. You can pre-order you copy by clicking the book cover.
 United Nations General Assembly, Report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, James Anaya: The situation of indigenous peoples in Canada, 4 July 2014, p. 8.
 HOUSING ON FIRST NATION RESERVES: Challenges and Successes Interim Report of the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples, February 2015, p. 8
 Perry Bellegarde, Chief, Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples, Issue No. 5, 2nd Session, 41st Parliament, April 9, 2014, p. 5:196.
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