DSSAB to fund housing program temporarily

The Rainy River District Social Services Administration Board on Thursday night passed a resolution to pay a subsidy for April to the Fort Frances Native Urban Wahkaihganun Corp. after receiving assurance from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing that the program’s economic difficulties have improved.
DSSAB recently received a letter from Toni Farley, director of the social housing branch of the ministry, indicating the local housing corporation has made great improvements over the last few years.
In 2002, the province had designated the FFNUW Corp. a “program in difficulty,” citing high administration costs, an underfunded reserve, building condition audits, and large maintenance expenditures as some of the main problems.
Last month, an order-in-council transferred responsibility for the program from the ministry to the local DSSAB.
But the board voted to refuse to accept responsibility for the program until the corporation could assure the DSSAB that the issues the ministry identified had been resolved.
A recent letter from Farley indicated the corporation was well on its way to meeting ministry standards.
“She said the administrative costs have decreased and they forecast further reductions to bring it down to the acceptable standard,” said DSSAB CAO Donna Dittaro.
Farley also indicated the reserve no longer was underfunded, and the 2004 contributions have been made.
“We’re just going to look for confirmation that the contributions were made for prior years: 2001, 02, and 03,” Dittaro said.
“In terms of the building condition audits, [Farley] said the Fort Frances Native Urban group has made necessary repairs to properties and that they have tracked their maintenance expenditures for long-range forecasting,” she added.
Farley also promised to send all up-to-date financial reports for the housing program. “They are quite happy with the progress that was made there,” Dittaro noted.
DSSAB will meet with a ministry rep April 16 to further review the information regarding the program. Dittaro also stressed the board would not be taking control of the program.
“The Fort Frances Native Urban program will maintain its own separate board and its own separate staff,” she noted. “That’s the way it is with all the non-profit housing in the district.
“We simply fund them and ensure they are following legislation and their agreements.”
While not all the details have been worked out on the financial transfer of the program, Dittaro said DSSAB agreed to pay the subsidy for April based on the information provided by Farley.
“The disagreement is between the DSSAB and the province. It has nothing to do with the Fort Frances Native Urban program, so why should the corporation suffer?” she said.