Urban aboriginal tenants sought for apartments
Built by Wahkaihganun Futures Corp. to help address the need to provide safe, affordable housing to aboriginal people living off-reserve, an apartment unit on Eighth Street now is accepting applications for tenants.
“They are really nice units,” enthused Peggy Loyie, secretary/treasurer of Wahkaihganun Futures Corp., adding there’s a need for housing for the urban aboriginal population.
“And there is a shortage of houses on reserves and people are looking in other areas,” Loyie explained.
“Fort Frances is the hub for 10 First Nations’ communities, in terms of medical, financial, and basic needs,” she said.
The apartment building, located at 237 Eighth St. W., was completed Dec. 10 and four units already have been spoken for.
However, there still are three two-bedroom units and three one-bedroom units available.
While the units are not subsidized, Loyie said they’re still very affordable at $750 for the two-bedroom units and $650 for the one-bedroom ones.
“They are at market value but they are very reasonable,” she remarked, adding utilities are included in the cost.
Each unit comes complete with a fridge, stove, washer, dryer, and air conditioning.
Housing manager Neil Kabel said the building also is very secure—complete with a monitor screen in each unit so tenants actually can see who is at the door when they try to “buzz in.”
“A person can say their name but that doesn’t always mean they are who they say they are,” Loyie noted.
“So now tenants will be able to see who’s there before they let them in.
“We want people to feel secure in their homes,” she added.
The apartment units are for self-identified First Nations, Métis, Inuit, and non-status people.
“And it’s our duty to pick the right applicants,” Kabel said.
The Wahkaihganun Futures Corp. board had been working for several years towards developing aboriginal housing in Fort Frances.
Funding for the new rental apartments was provided through the First Nation, Inuit, Métis Urban and Rural Housing program, administered by the Ontario Aboriginal Housing Support Services Corp., which was allocated funds by the Ontario government.
“They were really great to work with and provided so much support,” enthused Kabel, acknowledging, in particular, Don McBain (executive director with OAHSSC) and Justin March (programs delivery manager).
He added the contractor of the project, John DeGagne, did a great job.
“I haven’t heard anyone come in that hasn’t called [these units] beautiful,” Kabel said.
The units have plenty of storage and are completed in a neutral white colour.
“They can then come in and do what you want to make it your own,” Kabel noted.
“People are going to be able to take pride in their homes and that’s what we want,” said Loyie.
“It’s our objective to offer safe, affordable housing for the urban aboriginal population.”
Those interested in picking up an application can contact Kabel at 274-8530 or 275-8545.
Applications also are available at the United Native Friendship Centre here.
Kabel said there is a quick turn-around time for processing the applications.
“We’re really hoping [the building] will fill up quickly,” agreed Loyie, saying they already are looking at Phase II of the project, which will include a second apartment complex.
Wahkaihganun Futures Corp. is a related company to Fort Frances Native Urban Wahkaihganun Corp., with the same board of directors.
The latter was founded in 1986 as non-profit organization, which works to provide affordable housing for families and individuals of native ancestry.