Going back to the future for a housing solution

Nunatsiaq News examines Nunavut’s housing crisis in 4-part series

A HAP house is shown while under construction in 1988, in Fort Good Hope, N.W.T. (Photo courtesy of David Hulchanski)

By Corey Larocque

Housing might be the most broken of all Nunavut’s pressing economic and social issues.

There’s not enough. It’s not good enough. And it’s too expensive.

Solutions proposed by the federal and territorial governments, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. and the three regional Inuit associations seem to go in circles without getting much traction.

Former MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq made housing the cornerstone of her two-year term. She conducted a tour of the territory to witness and document housing conditions, then shared her report with Parliament. The NDP vowed to keep northern housing on the public agenda and to push for solutions. That was a year ago.

It was more than five years ago that the Senate’s Aboriginal Peoples committee studied housing in the North and published a report titled, We Can Do Better: Housing in Inuit Nunangat.

And yet problems persist.

So, when Inuit leader and one-time MP Jack Anawak bent the ear of Nunatsiaq News reporter David Venn about a long-forgotten housing program, it piqued his interest.

Anawak told Venn about the Homeownership Assistance Program, run by the Government of the Northwest Territories between the early 1980s and 1992 — back when Nunavut was part of the N.W.T.

Venn spent a year researching the program, culminating with a trip to Naujaat and Rankin Inlet to meet people who had taken advantage of the program to build their own home — using materials provided by the government, along with their own blood, sweat and tears.

The majority of the houses are still standing and in good condition.

At a time when Nunavummiut watch government continually pump millions of dollars into housing programs that don’t achieve their desired goals, why not look at something completely different? Something that did actually get results.

It’s why Nunatsiaq News produced this four-part series — starting online today, in English and Inuktitut — as a solutions-based look at something that worked before and to ask the question, could it work again?

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(1) Comment:

  1. Posted by Steven Steinwold on

    If the federal government did a study on the social cost to the communities when proper housing and shortage of housing , they would be absolutely astonished and drastically increase their budgets. The technology exists . Not enough room here to discuss it , neither is this the right forum..514 581-1429 I would love to chat with someone..

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