Homelessness is serious among employed people


There are many pressing issues on housing, but one housing issue I haven’t heard very much about from any of the Nunavut representatives is the issue of housing for employees.

I know for a fact there are many homeless workers all across Nunavut, especially here in Iqaluit. Most do not want to report living with one family after another while they are working to barely save up the $3,800 needed for the first and last month’s rent to get into an apartment, when housing is not provided by an employer. It is especially hard for those that are minimum wage earners — they have to wait for as long as 3 years to get low-income housing.

I totally understand wanting to move from a small community to another place in hopes of finding stable employment and housing. I know housing is a big issue here but what I cannot understand is how come there is absolutely no help available when it comes to workers’ homelessness, unless you are a middle income worker hired on with a housing subsidy.

When workers finally get tired of being homeless after many months of trying to find housing, they either get fired, or give up trying altogether because the cost of living is too high to save.

They have to then save up for plane tickets to get back home, to more homelessness, or it is up to the immediate family to pay for that person to get back home, a financial hardship for the person and the family.

It is scary for me to think subsidies might very well be phased out in the future as Nunavut representatives push their workers to find private rental housing. This move became apparent at the beginning of this year when they increased rents.

It is so unreal to even think about getting a loan of $250,000 to buy a house, and not know if you are going to keep your job as all the bills add up just to sustain your livelihood.

When you travel without your family because of personal reasons you still have to worry about paying twice a year to see your family and airline tickets cost easily up to $2300.

If all fails and you have not made it to five years of employment, you have to think about going back home while buying a ticket out of your own pocket to return to no housing at all and a stack of humongous bills.

With the rent increased, having to pay $200 more a month makes a big difference when you are barely making enough to feed a family, let alone having to go get a loan to get a house that is not affordable at all since most people get employment already with many worries of having unpaid bills before they move here, and more bills just to go home to see family and having more family come to stay with you.

I just want to say to homeless workers that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Just stick it out, and prove to yourselves you can do it. At least we can say we are employed.

Kataisee Attagutsiak

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