One hundred-sixteen public housing units in Nunavut will need professional contractors to deal with mould build up.

In the past year, the Nunavut Housing Corporation investigated 271 of its public housing units — or roughly five per cent of its housing stock.

It went into those units based on local housing authorities' recommendations and found that 31 were not a concern, meaning the mould could be cleaned by tenants.

It also found 124 could be addressed by local housing authorities, and 116 require outside contractors.

The Nunavut Housing Corporation will take advantage of federal money to exterminate mould from at least 31 of those units.

Living room window with visible mould

Living room window with visible mould in Igloolik. (Nunavut Housing Corporation )

Hazmat gear required

Tenders for mould clean-up closed for 31 units across five communities on May 5. A tender for the community of Kugaaruk is expected to be posted soon.

Contractors with hazmat gear will be brought in to return the homes to a liveable state.

Terry Audla, president of the Nunavut Housing Corporation, said these units have kinds or quantities of mould not manageable with resources available to the local housing authorities.

"We are certainly most concerned about it," Audla said. "But that would take special equipment and expertise which is not currently available within the territory."

The housing corporation handles mould concerns on an ongoing basis, usually in a piecemeal fashion, Audla said, tackling the worst cases community by community.  

"In this situation, because we have the federal funds now...  we felt we should try and address as much as we can in a shorter period of time," he said.

Homes will have mouldy wood and drywall removed, weather stripping replaced, and ventilation improved.

Rags and paper towel soak up moisture

Rags and paper towel soak up moisture on a windowsill in Igloolik. (Nunavut Housing Corporation)

The money comes from the $2.65 million dedicated by the Federal Social Infrastructure Fund to social housing unit renovations and the housing corporation's public housing modernization budget.

Avoiding mould

The housing units were constructed between 1970 and the 1990s, but Audla said it's not necessarily the age of the building that suggests the presence of mould.

He said tenants can help stave off mould by running bathroom and kitchen fans, keeping the air exchange unit on and the house generally clean.

The mould report attached to the tenders cites overcrowding as a contributor to mould growth.

Audla suggests furniture placement, like keeping mattresses off the floor, can help in most cases.

But overall, he said the number of houses affected is comparatively small.

The tenders call for the work to be completed by March 31, 2018.

With files from Mike Salomonie