Frustrated by housing shortage, NWT couple builds their own home

Fort Providence has an estimated two year wait list for public housing in the community. Fed up, Joe and Elsie Lacorne decided to invest in building their own home slowly, over years.

Fort Providence couple decided to skip the long line for public housing and build a small home instead

Joe and Elsie Lacorne, their children and grandchild have been living in these two small sheds while they build their own home. (Jimmy Thomson/CBC)

Joe and Elsie Lacorne are working hard on their house — a dream in the making for nearly two years.  

Right now it's more of a large insulated plywood box, open on the inside. But it's a substantial improvement from their current living situation, two tiny sheds across from the work in progress, which they share with their children and two-year-old grandchild.

And best of all, when it is finished, it will be all theirs. 
Joe and Elsie's new home in Fort Providence is still a work in progress, in need of wiring and an insulated floor, among other things. (Jimmy Thomson/CBC)

"The first year that we got our lot was an exciting moment," said Joe with a smile. 

The couple's new home is located on the outskirts of Fort Providence, a hamlet with a population of roughly 700 people, and an estimated two year wait-list for public housing. 

'There's a lot of people waiting'

"There's a lot of people waiting… staying with family," Elsie says. 
Joe and Elsie Lacorne sit in the kitchen of a home they are visiting during a trip Hay River. They make frequent trips to Hay River to buy supplies. (Jimmy Thomson/CBC)

"If you apply for a house today you'll have to wait for two years." 

Fed up, Joe and Elsie decided to take matters into their own hands. They bought a lot and started building the house from whatever materials they could afford at the time, piece by piece. 

Joe's income from odd jobs and Elsie's Employment Insurance payments help buy the lumber on trips to Hay River. Without a truck of their own, though, they have to pay to transport the materials to the construction site. 

But they have had help. Their children have pitched in with labour, and when community members like Pat Mazerolle and James Christie saw what the Lacornes were doing, they raised money to pay for the roof through a local Chase the Ace game. 
Pat Mazerolle helped organize a Chase the Ace fundraiser to pay for a roof on the new Lacorne family home. (Jimmy Thomson/CBC)

"It was getting close to winter and they didn't have a roof on, so we decided to help them out," says Mazerolle.

The house still needs interior walls, electricity, insulation for the floor and all the other comforts that make a house a home. But for Joe and Elsie, it's close enough. They hope to move in by March or April.

"We'll keep on working, and see how far we can get it this year," says Joe.