The way the Government of Nunavut manages housing remains under review, Lorne Kusugak, the minister responsible for the Nunavut Housing Corporation, said in the Legislative Assembly on March 8.
Kusugak faced multiple questions about the territory’s housing crisis over the first couple of days of the legislature’s winter sitting, including from Netsilik MLA Inagayuk Quqqiaq.
Despite what he called an “urgent need” for more houses in Taloyoak and Kugaaruk, Quqqiaq said, “My constituents in Taloyoak were very disappointed to learn last year that the planned new units for the community had been delayed.”
Kusugak replied that last year’s delays were unfortunate but “for the summer, we don’t have any more delays. We have been informed that they are going to go ahead.”
Quqqiaq said he understands that the housing corp. doesn’t have unlimited resources and he recognizes the need to allocate new housing units fairly. However, he encouraged the minister to “take a look at the current point rating system that local housing organizations use to review applications in order to ensure that it is as fair as possible.”
Kusugak acknowledged that there has been a uneven distribution of new homes across the territory.
“There are occasions where some communities wait a very long time for new allocations of housing, while other communities are always getting new housing,” the minister said. “We have to keep reviewing it to see new allocations for Nunavut and how they are managed and how that management can be improved.”
The 5th Legislative Assembly did its own reviews of housing allocations and construction options.
Kusugak, who pitched the possibility to importing modular homes when he vied for the premiership during November’s leadership selection, also spoke to the ever-rising expense of building new residences. It can sometimes cost $1 million to construct a new unit, he said.
“That’s too much now. Many of us have entered these houses that have tiny rooms and it costs a million dollars to build. If it’s a six-plex, it can be $6 million for little one-bedroom units,” he said. “We really need to take a look at how we deal with housing and where we want to go with that because, at that rate, we will never make housing affordable. We are taking a look at that — one of many things we are looking at in the housing envelope, and I look forward to tackling that issue with my colleagues.”