The Nunavut Housing Corporation has secured $265 million in funding over the next nine years from the National Housing Strategy. “This will bring about 700 new housing units across the territory,” said Mike McPherson, vice-president and chief operating officer of NHC. He added the plan is to build 227 new public housing units from 2020 to 2022.

Over the past five years, the number of public housing units has been raised from 5,153 units in March 2015 to 5,582 units in 2019. This means 429 public housing units were constructed in Nunavut during this period. The construction cost for these housing units has been about $200 million.

A 2019 housing construction project in Arctic Bay. photo courtesy of Manny Noble

On Aug. 31, after her three-week tour of housing units in the territory, Nunavut MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq had said many Nunavummuit are in need of housing and aren’t being heard.

“I don’t think that the bare minimum has ever been reached and for Nunavut in particular, housing, it’s a basic human right,” she had expressed.

The vice-president of NHC said, “Progress feels slow and we understand the frustration felt by many.”
However, in the meantime, the NHC is prioritizing the “most vulnerable applicants” who have the “greatest” need for housing, said McPherson.

He explained that various factors are considered before providing housing to applicants, not limited to “whether an applicant is a victim of spousal assault, is homeless or may become homeless unless they are assigned a housing unit.

“Their means to afford housing in the private market or to own their own home are also taken into consideration,” said McPherson.

He added the length of time someone has spent on the wait list is yet another factor.

“We know this may seem unfair to people who have waited years for public housing,” said McPherson.

“Our highest priority has to be ensuring our most vulnerable applicants are assigned housing.”

Nunavummiut who are not able to immediately secure housing are placed on a waiting list.

Data collected from July 2020 shows that the number of applicants vary according to the community. NHC states there were 178 applications on the wait list in Gjoa Haven, 109 in Taloyaok, 70 in Kugaaruk, 72 in Coral Harbour, 222 in Rankin Inlet, 279 in Arviat and 261 in Baker Lake.

“Some of the homes I have seen are absolutely horrific. There is no way that someone should be living in there,” said Qaqqaq on Aug. 31, referring to the aforementioned communities.

She had described the housing units as “mould boxes” in “horrendous” conditions.

On Sept. 16, Qaqqaq told Nunavut News, “Each community has a housing corporation and most communities struggle year after year to keep up with basic maintenance let alone massive mould and infrastructure issues.”
McPherson said the NHC takes concerns about mould in its public housing units “seriously.” For “large complex remediations, the NHC is working with engineering services and when necessary tendering work to private contractors.”

To date, NHC has remediated 147 units in 19 communities, said McPherson, adding “NHC continues to move forward with work on units containing mould.”

The NHC encourages public housing tenants to report mould to their local housing organization immediately.

“We know the housing crisis is an ongoing and heavy burden, meaning few choices, overcrowding and struggle, as the demand for housing exceeds what is available,” said McPherson.

“Financial support from the federal government to the NHC is critical for us to address the housing crisis.”
Qaqqaq told Nunavut News, “The Nunavut Housing Corporation is doing the best that it can with limited resources. The solution will not come from better management or proper administration, but rather from a greater degree of investment from the federal government. They have the money and need to be spending it to allow Nunavummiut organizations like the housing corporation to be able to thrive.”


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  1. More units on the way is good news, but with that said the existing “mould boxes” (an accurate description) that Nunavummiut are living in are a main source of sickness which incurs a ton of debt due to medical travel etc. This is a fact and
    money should also be placed in rectifying this issue. Like many other concerned citizens I hope that this issue will not be tossed to the side in saying that there will be 227 new units . . .

    The statement, “The solution will not come from better management or proper administration, but rather from a greater degree of investment from the federal government”, may be true but saying:

    “The NHC encourages public housing tenants to report mould to their local housing organization immediately.”, a statement that surely comes from NHC management is quite misguided. Sometimes the average person cannot be heald responsible for such a task. To Clarify it should not be the tenants responsibility to identify/report such issues. Annual inspections on behalf of the NHC should identify these issues.

    Management, please be better. Do not make statements like “The NHC encourages public housing tenants to report mould to their local housing organization immediately”.

  2. The NHC needs to find a cost effective solution for our housing needs. Just making five-plexes more complicated and expensive gets us no where. You cannot hope that spending extra money on more complicated construction will solve our maintenance and mold issues. Mold is not a construction issue unless it is done wrong. Mold is an occupancy issue. Over crowding leads to most of our problems whether they be social or health related. One hundred and 8 units a year is not going to cut it. More support for private ownership, more support for maintenance projects would be a start. Getting people out of public housing and into their own units should be the focus. Who can make sure housing is built well and as cheaply as possible than the person paying the bill. I don’t know if the tenant to owner program has ever had any value. Has anyone bought the public housing unit they live in? How about the pitiful down payment assistance program. Has anyone actually benefited from this? Maybe in the large centers but I doubt in the small communities as there is no real estate market there. The home owner assistance programs such as the Emergency Repair Program, Nunavut Homeowner repair program and others have not had the upper limit of funds available increased for at least 15 years. These are good programs as they help people keep there homes in good repair. Is public housing even worth continuing with? It hasn’t worked for the last 50 years what makes anyone think it will work now. Possibly some private partnerships so local companies can help develop a real estate market. Most HAP, ACCESS, and whatever followed ACCESS, homeowners still are in their homes taking care of themselves. I realize some were not successful. These homes that were re-possessed or given up should be valued and sold to people in public housing. You get the existing public housing unit back to put someone on the waiting list in and NHC will not have to pay the vast majority of the costs on the unit sold to the former public housing tenant. It is time for a new vision for housing in Nunavut. Please don’t hire some southern consultant to study the issue, this money is wasted. We know the issues. We live with them everyday.

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