Nunavut could face $155M shortfall for social housing in 30 years: report
The future of Nunavut's social housing system is being questioned by a report that projects a $155-million funding shortfall to operate social housing there by the year 2037.
The projection, found in a private discussion paper recently released to CBC News, adds to long-standing concerns about housing in the territory.
Luigi Zanasi, a Whitehorse-based independent economist who wrote the December 2006 report, said the issue lies with the social housing agreement Nunavut signed with the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corp. in the late-1990s.
Under the agreement, Nunavut will see federal funding for social housing gradually decline until it ends in 2037.
Other provinces and territories have similar agreements, also with funding expiry dates, but Zanasi said Nunavut will be worst hit when its social housing funding eventually dries up.
"Nunavut has much higher costs, both in fuel, for construction and repairs," Zanasi told CBC News in an interview.
"The other thing is that social housing is a much more important part of the whole housing portfolio in the North."
Zanasi's report was cited by the CMHC last week in its latest edition of the Canadian Housing Observer, which monitors Canadian housing trends, including Nunavut's high social housing needs.
Social housing accounts for 73 per cent of Nunavut's overall rental housing stock, according to Zanasi's report.
The report concludes that if Nunavut does not find additional funding soon, its social housing stock will deteriorate.
"In the South, they have a number of solutions to keep those social housing units going. In some cases, they could sell them: like, if they are in downtown Toronto ... make a pile of money and build social housing somewhere," Zanasi said.
"Those solutions don't exist in the North. And what's really happening is that as those subsidies decline, the territorial governments will have to pick up the cost if they want to keep those social housing units going."
But Nunavut Housing Corp. president Peter Scott said the decline is already happening as Nunavut's high overcrowding rate takes a toll on existing social housing units and the people who live there.
"Without federal intervention and investment in the housing, the territorial government just doesn't have the capacity to deal with the immense housing issues here," Scott said.
The housing corporation is lobbying the federal government for more social housing money, beyond the occasional capital funding announcement.
As well, Scott said he would like to see Nunavut and the CMHC reach a new social housing agreement.