Hay River South MLA Rocky Simpson raised the issue of homelessness in Hay River in the Legislative Assembly on June 11.

Simpson asked Paulie Chinna, the minister responsible for the NWT Housing Corporation and homelessness, if there has been any action to establish a permanent shelter for men in Hay River.

Hay River South MLA Rocky Simpson says some homeless men are moving back to this temporary shelter on his property in Old Town. Homeless men are being accommodated for the Covid-19 crisis at 18 rooms secured by the GNWT at North Country Inn.
Paul Bickford/NNSL photo

“Right now, the Housing Corporation is involved in a vulnerable persons working group in the community of Hay River,” Chinna replied. “Right now, we are in agreement with an established business in Hay River as well, too, that we have opened up 18 additional rooms for Hay River.”

The minister said she realized that is a temporary solution for the community, referring to the rooms secured at North Country Inn.

Chinna said the GNWT is hoping to work in conjunction with community residents and non-profit organizations to find a solution to address the needs of the homeless.

“I think that the people appreciate the beds that are made available to the homeless right now,” said Simpson. “Problem is that some of them are removed every once in a while, and they have nowhere to go. They had a shelter in the old part of Hay River, and it was closed. This morning (of June 11) there was somebody peeking out the window, so they moved back in. I told the guy, ‘Just keep the door open. Let them use it until something else comes up.'”

Simpson also asked the minister what the GNWT is going to do about the “big shortage” in Hay River of living accommodations for singles, couples and families.

“The Hay River highrise has been a sore point for many, but it has 122 apartments sitting empty right now,” he said, referring to the Mackenzie Place apartment building, which has been empty since a fire in March of last year. “It is time to put our differences aside and seriously look at it as a viable place to reduce housing requirements in Hay River. This government did it with the Arnica Inn project here in Yellowknife. Why not the Hay River highrise?”

Chinna said the Housing Corporation hasn’t been approached by the owner of the highrise about renovations or possibility accessing a co-investment fund.

“I am open to furthering this conversation with the member, should the member and his riding be interested in looking at additional solutions for the highrise,” Chinna told Simpson. “The business owner would have to contact the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation individually.”

Paul Bickford

Paul Bickford is the reporter for Hay River Hub.

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