Saturday, August 11, 2012

Cons let Attawapiskat housing $ to fall through

The Toronto Star:

Ottawa — A plan to build much-needed houses in Attawapiskat fell through because of lack of support from Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan, leaders in the troubled northern Ontario aboriginal community revealed Friday.

Acting Chief Christine Kataquapit said an application to Canada’s national housing agency for help financing the construction of 30 houses in Attawapiskat was not approved because Duncan refused to sign off on an agreement between Attawapiskat and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC).

And Kataquapit said the letter from CMHC ruling out financial support for the housing plan was written Aug. 2, a day after a federal court judge gave the Harper government a black eye over its decision to send a third-party manager into Attawapiskat last year.

The community had applied for support to build houses under CMHC’s non-profit, on-reserve housing program, which provides loans to First Nations to construct or rehabilitate rental units. The loans are insured under the National Housing Act and must be guaranteed by Duncan, the minister of aboriginal affairs and northern development.

Kataquapit said CMHC’s Aug. 2 letter said Attawapiskat’s application for funding was being rejected because of the inability to obtain a ministerial loan guarantee for the planned housing project.

“We were disappointed to receive the letter that we were not selected because we are still scrounging around for housing units for our members and there’s a shortfall,” she said in an interview.

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