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Mi’kmaw tiny-home builders hope to solve Indigenous housing crisis

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    Saskatoon, Saskatchewan (CTV Network) — A Mi’kmaw uncle-nephew duo are making tiny homes in the hopes of addressing crowded Indigenous households and the lack of adequate Indigenous housing in New Brunswick and communities across Canada.

Lloyd Augustine and his nephew Robert, who run Piligan Construction in Esgenoôpetitj First Nations in New Brunswick, say their homes could alleviate the huge burden caused by a housing shortage in the region, especially on reserves.

“There’s a lot of people that are in trailers and some people who slept in tents,” Robert Augustine told during a video interview on Thursday, noting it takes just two to three weeks to build the homes.

Their first home — which costs only $64,000 — is about three metres by eight metres, or 10 feet by 26 feet. It boasts hardwood floors, one bedroom, a sleeping loft, a combined kitchen and living room, and a full-size bathroom.

But the price of the homes could be as low as $50,000, depending on the size and what people asked for.

Augustine explained as many as three families can live in one Indigenous household, or that families will usually have one extra relative living there too. The builders said their homes will make it easier for those people to move out, while offering “comfort” for young couples or single people.

Overcrowding in Indigenous communities is a longstanding issue in this country. In 2019, a United Nations report on housing for Indigenous populations found one in four people living on reserves were doing so in overcrowded conditions.

This troubling figure is approximately seven times that of non-Indigenous people across Canada.

But this is in line with other statistics. According to a 2016 Statistics Canada report, approximately two out of five Indigenous people in lived in crowded households. The same report also found just over one in ten lived in housing with one less bedroom than the residents required.

Between the two of them, the Augustines have decades of home-building experience. And because the housing crisis hasn’t gotten better, the Robert notes, “if no one else is doing it, like why, not us at that point?”

Although the duo have the will to build right now, there are several issues complicating things.

Lloyd Augustine notes that the pandemic has hampered their attempts to scale up their operation and house more people, as supplies have been slow to get out to them.

The second-biggest issue is money for potential homebuyers.

“There are quite a few people that want houses but, right now at the moment, they come in, money is very hard to come by,” he explained, saying families getting a mortgage or loan to pay for it was proving difficult.

So they’re hoping banks make “it easier for people to be able to purchase buildings like this.”

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Nicole Bogart
(416) 384-5000

Article Topic Follows: National-World

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