Nunavut Housing Corp. makes plans for $80M in federal funding

A multi-million-dollar, 2-year investment to improve social housing will result in 185 new housing units and better housing for elders and victims of abuse, says Minister George Kuksuk.

Multi-million-dollar investment 'only begins to address Nunavut’s severe housing crisis'

More than $80 million in federal funding will go toward building or renovating social housing in Nunavut. The territory has pegged the overall need at $1 billion. (Katherine Barton/CBC)

The Nunavut Housing Corporation has announced how it will spend a "significant" federal contribution aimed at addressing the territory's housing crisis. 

The 2016 federal budget laid out $76.7 million over two years for building affordable housing. 

Through the Investment in Affordable Housing Initiative, it's also providing: 

  • $1.2 million to improve housing for seniors;
  • $500,000 to support the renovation of shelters and transition houses for victims of family violence; and
  • $2.6 million for repairs to aging social housing. 

But as big as the multi-million dollar announcement might seem, it certainly won't solve Nunavut's housing deficit, which has been called a $1-billion issue

"While this funding is a significant accomplishment, it only begins to address Nunavut's severe housing crisis," George Kuksuk, the minister responsible for the Nunavut Housing Corporation told the territorial legislature Monday.

Min. George Kuksuk says the funding 'only begins to address Nunavut’s severe housing crisis.' (Nunavut Legislative Assembly)

Where the money will go

Kuksuk said the territorial corporation has come up with a "comprehensive implementation plan for this funding." 

The multi-million-dollar announcement should create 185 units in the communities with the "greatest need," he explained.

Those units will be divided among 15 communities. After two years, Cambridge Bay will end up with the most units at 25. Gjoa Haven, Arviat and Iqaluit will each get 20. 

The Nunavut Housing Corporation says the $76.7 million it has received to build public housing over the next two years will pay for 185 units. (Nunavut Housing Corporation)

As for the funding for seniors, Kuksuk said the majority of the money will be used to improve the situations in two Nunavut elders' homes, in Iqaluit and in Arviat.

As for the funding for housing that supports victims of family violence, Kuksuk says "the Nunavut Housing Corporation is working closely with the Department of Family Services to identify renovation work on two non-government owned and operated shelters that would benefit significantly from this funding."

Kuksuk said the housing corporation will use the funding for repairs to target "a serious problem" in its aging social housing units — mould. 

Senators Tobias Enverga Jr. and Nancy Greene Raine take a closer look at an Iqaluit public housing unit, as Barry Biggs and Jeani MacKenzie of the Iqaluit Housing Authority explain how it was damaged by mould. (Vincent Robinet/CBC)

Mould 'a serious problem' 

Earlier in this legislative sitting, South Baffin MLA David Joanasie asked about what the government is doing about mouldy housing, which he says is a growing concern among his constituents. 

In 2013, a woman in Baker Lake, Nunavut, said her public housing unit was infested with mould and the walls were growing mushrooms. (Corrie Aupaluktuq )
Kuksuk told Joanasie that a recent review showed that 245 units throughout Nunavut require mould remediation.

"I have difficulty agreeing with this figure," responded Joanasie in Inuktitut. "In my estimation, this may be the tip of the iceberg, with many more cases." 

Mould has been a recurring problem among overcrowded housing units in the territory. 

A Senate standing committee is currently working on a final report on the housing crisis in Northern communities. 

During a trip to Iqaluit this spring, senators were told about how overcrowding and improper ventilation contributes to the overall prevalence of mould infestations.