Ottawa has coughed up $2 million less than Crees need to build housing in 1994.

Cree bands were hoping for 73 new houses, but are being given only $11.4 million, about 15 per cent less than they need. That amount is even $300,000 less than last year, despite rising building costs.

Based on cost estimates provided by each community, Crees need $13.4 million to build the 73 homes. Cost estimates vary widely from community to community. Whapmagoostui, which is hoping to get eight new homes, says they can be built for $150,000 each. In Wemindji, which is aiming for five houses, each one will cost $225,000. In Waswanipi, they’ll cost only $120,000. The bands are being asked by Cree negotiators to review their cost estimates.

The Grand Council estimates that Crees need an extra 1,200 new houses to meet the backlog in demand. With a population of 12,000, the Crees have an overall total of 1,179 houses. This means there are about 10 people per house.