The federal minister responsible for the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation Ahmed Hussen touched down in Iqaluit on August 3 to announce almost $10 million in funding to go towards public housing in Nunavut.
The City of Iqaluit will see $5,000,000 of that funding to go toward homes for individuals and families.
“This funding will support the creation of of approximately 24 permanent affordable housing units,” said Hussen.
Nine of these units will be in Iqaluit will be going to people who don’t have permanent shelter.
City officials have praised the funding announcements as a step towards helping tackle homelessness in the capital.
“Before I came to Iqaluit I was living in a shelter in Ottawa, I had also lived in subsidized housing while I was in Ottawa for a brief time,” said Deputy mayor of Iqaluit Janet Brewster, speaking on her own experiences with housing instability.
Brewster adds that many Iqalummiut who have lived here for generations have been pushed out of the market by the lack of affordable housing.
“We see the impacts everyday, people who are homeless or near homeless, we know that many people are couch-surfing. We don’t have clear statistics on that but we know it’s a reality,” she said.
“I really appreciate Canada’s contribution today, it’s a welcome addition to securing the needs to build affordable housing in our city.”
Five-plexes in the Kitikmeot
An additional $4.9 million in funding will go toward three public housing five-plexes in the Kitikmeot, making a total of 15 units.
Two of these five-plexes, one in Gjoa Haven and the other in Kugluktuk, will be moving from staff housing to to public housing, next year the GN plans to construct more staff housing in place of these in the same communities.
Minister of Family Services Elisapee Sheutiapik also praised the funding for five-plexes in the Kitikmeot and hopes more money will keep coming.
“I am hopeful this is the start of additional funds to address the housing crisis in our territory,” said Sheutiapik.
With a number of construction projects being delayed or halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sheutiapik says “the announcement of this new Rapid Housing Initiative funding from the federal government is well-timed.”
“I thank our federal partners on behalf of many Nunavummiut who are struggling right now,” said Sheutiapik.
There’s still a lot of work that still needs to be done to address housing issues in Canada and Nunavut says Hussen, who adds, “we also have to make sure the national housing strategy works in Nunavut.”
Transitional and emergency housing
Last month Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller was in Iqaluit to highlight Indigenous shelter funding as well as the upcoming call for proposals for shelter funding. Hussen added on Aug. 3 that they will be working with Pauktuutit on Inuit-specific needs.
“We will work closely with Pauktuutit: Inuit Women of Canada to develop an Inuit-specific call for proposals which will be launched this summer,” said Hussen.
Hussen also highlighted an $8 million investment towards the Uquutaq men’s transitional shelter in Iqaluit, which houses 60 people.
Overall, he says, it’s a win-win for all those involved.
“These projects are good news for the workers, it’s good news for their families and it’s good news for the local economy.
“Every Canadian needs a safe and affordable place to call home, we know that’s a goal that we all share.”