Alberta real estate agent wants to boost Indigenous home ownership

·3 min read
A real estate sign is pictured in Vancouver in 2018.  (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press - image credit)
A real estate sign is pictured in Vancouver in 2018. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press - image credit)

A Indigenous real estate agent says that when it comes to home ownership in Alberta, there is a disparity between the number of Indigenous and non-Indigenous buyers.

He wants to change that.

Jason Johnson, a member of Piikani Nation, says that when he received his real estate licence in 2021, he noticed he was one of only a few Indigenous agents in the province.

Looking into Indigenous home ownership even further, he says there are barriers facing Indigenous homebuyers.

"There's definitely some racial profiling that some of our folks have highlighted … in a scenario with a rental home, 'I definitely feel stigmatized,'" he said.

He says some agents become impatient with their customers who are taking a little longer to make a decision.

Submitted by Jason Johnson
Submitted by Jason Johnson

"It takes time, especially if you're Indigenous, with all the baggage and all the issues and the distrust and mistrust and the hurt that's there."

Johnson is hosting an information session this month for Indigenous people who are interested in buying real estate.

"There seems to be a hunger there with our people … the idea of 'maybe I could buy my own house' maybe never donned on folks but was always there."

"If I can help somebody else do that, I think it's going to make all the difference in the world," he said.

Calgary activist and podcaster Michelle Robinson, who is Sahtu Dene, says Johnson is providing important representation.

"I hope that other Indigenous folks see him and say, 'hey, I want to do that, too,' because again, this is why we talk about representation matters."

She says there are a lot of myths that need to be dispelled about home ownership, but there are a lot of barriers, too.

Elisabeth Feltaous, senior specialist in the research division at Canada Housing and Mortgage Corporation (CMHC), said Indigenous households are more likely to rent their dwellings and less likely to own their dwellings compared with non-Indigenous populations across the country.

That's according to Indigenous-led research funded by CMHC based on 2016 census data.

In that year, 53 per cent of Indigenous households owned their dwellings and 39 per cent rented, compared with 68 per cent of non-Indigenous households who owned their dwellings and 31 per cent of non-Indigenous households who rented.

For some Indigenous people, the discrepancy will take more than one approach to resolve, while for others, home ownership has been relatively easy, said Feltaous.

"There's a variety of situations," she said, noting the census data isn't broken down according to Indigenous identity groups.

"There are additional barriers to accessing mortgage loans, there are additional barriers to accessing insurance for those loans if it's a modern treaty," she said.

Many groups have additional challenges accessing adequate credit through their ongoing history of displacement and dispossession of their traditional lands, she said.

"Disrupting their education, disrupting their income. This historical context has led to intergenerational difficulties accessing credit, trusting banks, trusting the financial system, but also providing barriers to them in accessing appropriate financing."

Johnson's real estate session is happening at the Piikani Powwow at the end of the month.

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