Here in BC, more than 20% of Indigenous households are “in core housing need”, meaning their homes are unsuitable, unaffordable or insufficient to meet the needs of their household. For the children and families we serve, access to safe, affordable and adequate housing is a huge barrier to their health and wellness.
Recently, KL has launched a new program that puts the issue of housing front and centre – and provides hands-on education and support for Indigenous families and youth.
Troy Brooks, Housing Coordinator for KL, helps community members to support their housing needs – whether that is assisting with BC Housing applications, organizing viewings, performing rental market searches or helping develop a family housing budget. He is also the facilitator for our new Rent Smart program, open to anyone from our member Nations.
“Rent Smart is a valuable program especially for preparing youth ages 16-19 to learn more about the rental market, improve speaking skills for instance how to speak with a potential landlord, providing essential follow-up email communications as well as speaking over the phone in a professional and courteous manner.”, says Troy.
Upon completion of the 10-week program, each participant receives a certificate which is also recognized by BC Housing. For young first time renters the certificate acts as a reference.
Troy continues, “This program is definitely something that youth (and anyone) will benefit from and increase their chances of securing a rental accommodation in such a highly competitive rental market. Some Nations which have housing/apartment rentals view prospective renters with the Housing Certificate as a priority. This program also challenges participants in raising awareness and understanding of the BC Residential Tenancy Act as well as helping each person think hard about roommate compatibility. This forces conversations around personal style and creates the opportunity for participants to look inward, to define what their personal style/preferences are. Are they clean? Do they have a pet? Do they have a pet reference? Do they work? Is the potential roommate’s lifestyle compatible? I am seeing the commitment level in participants who are taking these lessons to heart and using tools (such as questionnaires) to help develop strategies especially when it comes to roommates. For example, creating lists for chores like doing dishes, keeping a clean bathroom, taking out the trash or other maintenance such as mowing the lawn to being pro-active in discussing what it takes to manage a household.”
The program was delivered to 20 participants within this first program delivery (In Duncan and Nanaimo). However, the word is out and there is interest from other KL Nations wishing to receive Rent Smart exclusive to their membership. The next program is set to take place in Ts’uu baa-asatx sometime this summer.
For more program information contact Troy Brooks at (250) 591-0933 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read more in our Summer Newsletter here