This past week, Ahmed Hussen, the federal minister responsible for the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, announced $9.9 million in funding from the Rapid Housing Initiative that will go toward creating 24 low-income housing units in Iqaluit, Gjoa Haven and Kugluktuk.

Hussen also highlighted an $8 million investment towards the Uquutaq men’s transitional shelter in Iqaluit, which houses 60 people.

“I am hopeful this is the start of additional funds to address the housing crisis in our territory,” said Family Services Minister Elisapee Sheutiapik, following the Aug. 3 announcement.

There’s little choice but to remain hopeful because, let’s face it, 24 homes is barely a drop in the bucket.

There are 142 people on the wait list for housing in Gjoa Haven alone. Getting that number down to 132, with a planned staff-housing build in Gjoa Haven being switched to public housing is a welcome start, but the GN must be feeling anxiety about such glaring need.

Having a permanent roof over one’s head shouldn’t feel like winning a lottery, and young, educated Nunavummiut aren’t looking for handouts.

In Rankin Inlet, resident Augatnaaq Eccles said the problem persists because there are so few housing options, existing units rarely go up for sale and when they do, they are sold privately rather than going on the open market.

Building a home from the ground up is out of reach for most, clocking in at close to $500,000 to construct a two-bedroom residence.

Eccles also makes a fair point, adding, “If those who are in a place to afford having their own homes built could have it done for a reasonable cost, it would also free up more housing units.”

Margaret Nakashuk, minister responsible for the Nunavut Housing Corporation, stated that while homeownership would alleviate the strain on the public housing system, it’s unattainable for many.

“For 91 per cent of public housing tenants, the cost of purchasing and maintaining their own home is prohibitively expensive. We estimate that as few as 16 per cent of families would be able to afford homeownership,” Nakashuk wrote.

Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated has repeatedly lobbied the federal government, asking for $500 million in funding to begin addressing the housing crisis in the territory. The land claims organization expressed disappointment at the paltry sum earmarked for Nunavut housing in the most recent budget – a $25-million “down payment,” as Northern Affairs Minister Dan Vandal referred to it.

In 2018, the most recently reported financial statements, there was more than $1.7 billion in invested assets in the Nunavut Trust. Beneficiaries received $94 million and there was no debt in outstanding capital loans.

According to the Trust’s website, its mandate is to invest the capital transfers to protect them from the effects of inflation and to provide income to its beneficiaries.

A better use of that vast sum of money might be to pilot a lease-to-own housing program, where NTI fronts the needed funds to build homes in each Nunavut community on a repayable basis. A robust application process would save them the foibles of the failed Homeowners Assistance Program, which didn’t account for maintenance and taxation costs.

Even if only 16 per cent of Nunavummiut could afford to be part of such a program, that would represent many more people moving out of public housing and into a future of their own control.

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  1. All contractors are screwing everybody off . Too much for so little . How about have people build there own home with one carpenter and a bunch of local people . And a government electrican going around doing work for cheaper not 40,000 or 50,000 dollars that’s highway robbery stop all the bull***t rules then see what happens

  2. Why do editorials constantly keep mentioning Nunavut Trust and the land claim compensation funds? NTI cannot take any of those funds, which originally was only $580 million Capital which was kept separate from both the NTI and RIA hands, in order to ensure that funds could be kept in perpetuity. It is meant only to fund the operations of these organizations and to allow for future growth.
    What NTI and the RIAs can do, is to instruct the trustees to look at setting aside $30,000,000 per year for some type of Inuit Housing Construction Fund, which could be used to purchase housing materials, mechanical equipment, shipping subsidies and the like to see how beneficiaries can construct their own units.
    On the other hand, the funds coming into NTI and the RIAs from the mining royalties and IIBA land use fees could be earmarked straight towards funding or subsidizing local construction programs that would assist each community to train and employ local Inuit that could build, maintain and provide economic development.
    There are reasons why this separation was enacted, because we knew others would salivate at a billion plus dollars once it grew to that amount from the original amount. If not for our insistence on almost a ten percent interest to the federal government for not paying a lump sum, that amount would have remained at roughly $600 million and not the $1.14 billion it turned out to be, and we sure did not want small-minded leaders to steal these funds, but rather to have multi-year programs earmarked for programs and other initiatives.
    The biggest problem has always been the lack of foresight, vision and tenacity both regionally and locally to try to develop proper local and regional development programs/bodies that can take advantage of both government and Inuit organizational funding cycles. (An old negotiator)

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