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Nunavik housing officials not yet ready to hike rents

Nunavik social housing tenants, who pay a maximum of only $340 month in rent, won’t see any increases yet.


MONTREAL — It looks as if social housing tenants in Nunavik won’t see their rents increase when their leases come up for renewal on July 1.

To raise rents on July 1, the Société d’habitation du Québec and the Kativik Municipal Housing Bureau, its regional branch, must agree on how to put these hikes into effect by March 31. So far, the two parties, which met last week in Quebec City, have only managed to agree on some pretty broad principles, such as “people should pay rent” and “Nunavik is different from the other regions of Quebec.”

No one in Nunavik is thrilled by the idea of paying more rent, especially because Nunavik’s rock-bottom social housing rents more than makes up for the higher cost of living.

The majority of Nunavik’s population still lives in cozy, well-built, one to five bedroom social housing units for which they pay only $190 to $340 a month, far less than many Nunavut residents. In other regions of Quebec, rents for social housing units are set at 25 per cent of revenues, according to a complex rent scale that requires tenants to supply information about every penny coming into the household.

In Nunavik, the housing bureau wants certain groups, such as pensioners, to benefit from special rent scales, and it also wants to see a much looser calculation of revenues applied to households. New rent scales will be scaled to the size of units, as well as to the personal revenues of the people living there.

“This means that a family with two wage earners and an income of $60,000 who lives in a three-bedroom house would pay less than a family with the same income living in a four-bedroom house,” said Watson Fournier, manager of Nunavik’s housing bureau.

The SHQ also wants people with higher incomes to pay at least 25 per cent of their revenues, so they’ll be encouraged to move into private housing.

The SHQ and the NMHB will meet again at end of March, timing that makes it very unlikely any increases in rent will be applied before September. Notice of such an increase must be made three months before the end of a lease.

If any letter does go out, it will likely be to extend leases for social housing units only to Sept. 1.

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