The Hamlet of Tulita will receive $4.9 million of federal funding to build eight modular housing units that Indigenous community leaders say will help fulfill a desperate need for shelter.
Mayor Danny Yallee, Kyanna Dolphus, and Don Smeltzer, interim senior administrative officer took part in a news conference on May 26 with NWT Member of Parliament Michael McLeod and GNWT Municipal and Community Affairs Minister Paulie Chinna.
Two of the eight units will be used for emergency accommodation that could range assisting people who might suddenly find themselves homeless, to shelter during a natural disaster like a flood or in a domestic abuse situation where a person might need a place to stay.
Another five will be used for Elders’ accommodations, while the sixth will be used exclusively for the hamlet for emergency situations.
The money comes from a $60 million carve-out from the Canada Mortgage Housing Corporation’s National Housing Co-Investment Fund (NHCF) to help the Northwest Territories to build 126 new units of housing.
The money is especially designated for those most at-risk, including women and their children, people with disabilities, and seniors.
Smeltzer said that the investment will make a huge difference to families in the community, which is made up of about 520 people, roughly 90 per cent of whom are Indigenous.
“Each one will house two adults and even perhaps a possible space for a third child or an adult. So if you add that all together you are looking at the end of the day you have an accommodation for 16 people which is very much needed here,” he said.
”We are kind of excited for what is happening. More plans and planning will come clear as the project moves forward and there may be modifications that are made.”
Yallee said housing demand is high in Tulita where residents of the Sahtu community often waiting several years to
“I’m not sure about what the wait list is but it takes three to five years to get a home and that is how long it takes to get a house in Tulita,” Yallee said.
“There will be some houses for some people. There needs to be more housing to be done and it is helpful, let’s put it that way.”
Chinna said that although the announcement is positive, there are still housing challenges.
“Working in partnership has been the key to providing affordable housing to meet the needs of our residents,” she said. “This is the future of suitable, adequate and affordable housing in the NWT. I am excited for the community of Tulita and I look forward to further partnerships that address core housing needs throughout the NWT.”
The NHCF is planning investments to create or repair at least 4,000 shelter spaces for victims of family violence, as well as create at least 7,000 new affordable housing units for seniors and 2,400 new affordable housing units for people with developmental disabilities across the country.
Len Catlin, media spokesperson for CMHC said in addition to the $60 million, other community groups can apply for those purposes.
“Along with the $60 million portion of the National Housing Co-Investment Fund, all proponents in the Northwest Territories, including Indigenous governments and organizations, non-profits, municipalities and private sector stakeholders have the opportunity to submit applications for funding under the national stream of the NHCF,” he said in a May 26 email.