Recent History – 2004-2006
July 13, 2004
By Gary Rusak, Daily News Staff
The Dawson Creek Native Housing Society is performing a study to see if a new elders housing complex in the city would be viable.
“What we are doing is a need and demand survey,” said Shelia Hanshaw, the coordinator of the project for the society. “Our housing mandate has no housing available for people 55 or over for either couples or singles, so we are trying to fill that hole.”
The society is entering its 20th year of operation and currently manages 47 housing units across the city as well as three triplexes.
The idea for a housing unit focusing on native elders was initiated by a need that Hanshaw has noticed in the community throughout the years.
“Sometimes we just plain and simple have to turn people away,” she said. “There have been a few that have ended up with in the winter time with absolutely no where to go. I have seen where there are five and six people in an apartment and paid up to $1,800 for that kind of accommodation.”
Although she has only been collecting signatures for a month, Hanshaw has already collected 28 names. She believes that the long list of names gathered without any advertising or exposure is a clear indication that the city needs a new aboriginal senior’s housing.
“There really is a need for native housing in our community,” she said. “We do have a partial list started and we would just encourage other ones that if they do need better housing to come in and give us your name.”
If enough names are gathered the society will be able to apply to the federal Canada Mortgage and Housing office for additional funding for the project. Already an innovative partnership with Northern Lights College has been discussed to help with the actual construction of the proposed facility.
“I have met with Howard Mayer of Northern Lights College,” said Hanshaw. “He was quite interested in the prospect of having a native carpentry class that could work on the complex. Really what prompted that idea was the work the college has done on the Dream Home.”
The preliminary plan calls for a five-unit structure.