Stats reveal wide housing gap between Inuit, non-Inuit

Survey numbers show non-Inuit enjoy better housing conditions than Inuit


Inuit residents of Nunavut are more than twice as likely as non-Inuit to be unhappy with the quality of their housing, Nunavut’s bureau of statistics says.

Jack Hicks, the director of Nunavut’s evaluation and statistics division, presented this information at the opening of a bureaucratic talk-fest in Iqaluit this week on Nunavut’s desperate housing shortage.

Using a slide show, Hicks summarized housing data gathered in a survey conducted across Nunavut in the spring of 2001. Survey workers interviewed 5,816 Inuit and non-Inuit residents living in 2,383 households.

The results show that Inuit, especially those living in the so-called “have-not” communities, are far more likely to be dissatisfied with their housing conditions.

More than a third of all Inuit residents — 36 per cent — told surveyors they’re dissatisfied with the quality of their housing, Hicks said.

But only 14 per cent of non-Inuit said they’re dissatisfied.

Hicks cautioned, however, that the survey contains a strong subjective element.

“This is a self-reporting response — what one person is satisfied with, another person may not be,” Hicks told conference participants.

But the results show a consistent pattern. Inuit, especially those in the smallest communities, suffer the worst housing conditions.

Inuit living in the 14 small communities that have received no decentralized government jobs and functions are the least satisfied with the condition and size of their dwellings.

Nearly 40 per cent of Inuit in those communities are dissatisfied with the condition of their dwellings, and 37 per cent of Inuit in those communities are dissatisfied with the size of their dwellings.

In Iqaluit, on the other hand, only 27 per cent of Inuit are dissatisfied with the condition of their dwellings, and 23 per cent of Inuit are dissatisfied with the size of their dwellings.

Overall, only 59.2 per cent of Nunavummiut are satisfied with the size and condition of their dwellings.

There are also differences in the kinds of housing units Inuit and non-Inuit tend to occupy.

Non-Inuit are far more likely to live in townhouses, rowhouses, apartments and condominiums than Inuit, who are far more likely to be living in semi-detached houses.

Non-Inuit are also far less likely to suffer from overcrowding. Survey results show that more than 50 per cent of non-Inuit live in dwellings with three or fewer residents.

But more than 50 per cent of Inuit live in dwellings with five or more residents.

Overall, the numbers show that many Nunavut households are overcrowded. Nearly 80 per cent of dwellings in Nunavut are occupied by more than one person per bedroom.

Many dwellings also appear to be in a state of disrepair. More than 51 per cent of Nunavut residents reported that their dwellings need either minor or major repairs.

Nearly half of all Nunavut residents — 45.9 per cent — live in public housing provided by Nunavut Housing Corporation.

Only 27.7 per cent of residents own their own units, and only 7.7 per cent rent their units directly from private landlords.

Hicks also presented numbers showing that large numbers of young Inuit are willing to leave their communities to get jobs, especially those living in smaller communities.

This means that Iqaluit is the community that is likely to receive the greatest influx of newcomers.

“Younger Inuit are willing to relocate…. In smaller communities there is a strong desire to move to bigger communities,” Hicks said. “For most young people who would like to move, their community of choice is Iqaluit.”

Nearly two-thirds of Inuit in the 15 to 24 age group, 64.3 per cent, said they are willing to move somewhere else to get jobs. In the 25 to 34 age group, 59.7 per cent said they would move, while 59 per cent of those aged 35 to 44 would move.

By 2020, Hicks said, there will be a 63 per cent increase in Nunavut’s working age population.

“There’s obviously a need for the government to work on job creation and housing,” Hicks said.

In remarks made at the beginning of the housing symposium, Pam Hine, the head of the Nunavut Housing Corporation, said Nunavut needs 3,000 new housing units just to meet current needs.

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