The Inuvik Homeless Shelter is aiming to re-open in mid-June after evacuating the building due to a bed bug infestation that was discovered in mid-April.
Cheryl Williams, bookkeeper for the shelter, said the total cost for fumigation, remediation and repairs for the shelter is estimated to be $100,000.
At the shelter’s annual general meeting May 14, Williams said some of the money has been donated by the Government of the Northwest Territories Housing Department, but the shelter’s Board of Directors are still looking for other funding sources to cover the costs.
“We’re still out looking for some more funding,” said Williams. “There is potential that there might be money on the federal level, but we have to go through Service Canada to access it. There’s no firm place yet for where the money is going to come from.”
Williams said this is the first time Inuvik has had a bed bug infestation.
An exterminator is set to arrive in Inuvik to fumigate the shelter June 8. The exterminator will be providing training sessions to shelter staff about how to identify and deal with bed bugs in the future. Staff from the John Wayne Kiktorak Centre are invited to attend the sessions.
Shelter clients are currently staying at a vacant group home on Reliance Street until the original shelter building can be properly fumigated.
The temporary location is only available until June 15.
Williams said the fumigation should begin June 8 and take two or three days, at which point residents will be able to move back into the original shelter at 185 Kingmingya Rd.
At the AGM, the possibility of charging clients a nominal fee for using the shelter was discussed.
Lucy Kuptana, chair of the shelter board, said the reason for charging clients is two-fold.
“I think if clients pay a nominal fee, maybe they’ll feel like they’re participating in the shelter operations and it would be more of a positive approach to having people take ownership and become more self-reliant,” said Kuptana. “Once you’re participating in the place you call home, you grow from that.”
Kuptana said the fee would be one step in helping empower clients to take the next steps towards transitioning back to independence.
The other reason for the fee is to help support the cost of keeping the shelter open. She said the annual utility bill is approximately $40,000 alone. Though the shelter receives funding from several government departments, she said it isn’t enough.
“We receive funding from the GNWT, and we hold bingos and lotteries, but we’re still having trouble making ends meet,” she said. “I don’t think asking a nominal fee is too much to ask.”
For those who are interested, Kuptana said there are many opportunities for community members to help the shelter.
“There’s a lot of opportunities for people to help. We’re always looking for donations, whether it be material or in-kind or offering a program at the shelter,” she said. “People are turning a blind eye. The community needs to start realizing that we have about 50 people who are homeless.”