Federal government announces $4.9 million investment for housing in Tulita

The funds will go toward building eight modular housing units in Tulita, N.W.T. Two of the units will be reserved for vulnerable persons in need.

The funds will go toward building 8 modular housing units, 2 reserved for vulnerable persons in need

Bear Rock near Tulita, N.W.T. The federal government made an announcement on housing in Tulita on Wednesday. (Alex Brockman/CBC)

The federal government announced Wednesday it will invest $4.9 million in housing in Tulita, N.W.T.

The funds will go toward building eight modular housing units in the community.

Two of the "community-led projects" will be reserved as emergency accommodation for vulnerable persons in need, the federal government said. The other six units will accommodate elders and others in the community.

The funds will be delivered through the National Housing Co-Investment Fund, which helps with new and revitalization construction of mixed-income, mixed-tenure and mixed-use affordable housing.

Don Smeltzer, interim senior administrative officer in Tulita, said during the news conference that the new units would house up to 16 people, "which is very, very much needed here."

He added planning will become clear as the project goes forward, and there may be alterations along the way.

The announcement was made in an online news conference by Member of Parliament Michael McLeod on behalf of Ahmed Hussen, minister of Families, Children and Social Development and minister responsible for the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). 

Tulita's mayor, Douglas Yallee, and Paulie Chinna, minister responsible for the NWT Housing Corporation and minister responsible for homelessness, were part of the announcement.

"In my community, there's too many people living in one house, overcrowding," Yallee said during the news conference. "In order to be on the waiting list, that's a long time to wait for housing, for their own home."

"There needs to be more housing to be done. But it's helpful, let's put it that way."

Federal, territorial and local officials were part of the joint housing announcement on housing in Tulita on Wednesday, including MP Michael McLeod, top left box, Tulita Mayor Douglas Yallee, left side of top right box, and Minister Paulie Chinna, bottom right box. (CBC)

The newly announced funds are part of the $60 million earmarked for the N.W.T. from the NHCF, initially announced about two years ago, and meant to be spent on 126 affordable housing units to address the dire housing needs in the territory. 

The housing funds are meant for those "most at-risk," including women and their children, people with disabilities and seniors. 

The territorial government drew criticism for not touching the funds in the two years after it was initially created. In November, CBC also reported some Indigenous leaders were surprised to learn that $60 million in federal funding was available for housing projects in the Northwest Territories.

More community-led projects to be announced

About $25.5 million of that $60 million is meant to be administered by N.W.T. Housing Corporation, with the remaining $34.5 million going towards supporting Indigenous governments and organizations with six community-led projects. The announcement in Tulita is the first of those six projects to be announced.

"Today's announcement definitely is good news, but the housing needs in the territories are still significant," Chinna said. "Only by working together can we address these needs."

McLeod said during the news conference that the next of the community-led projects will be announced "fairly quick," and the rest "hopefully in short order."

"It's not a simple [application] process. It's fairly lengthy," he said. "All of these communities have provided the information and the necessary documentation to receive the approvals. But it's not an overnight — it's taken several months for these communities to receive their approvals."