Taloyoak has high demand for housing and can see no way to meet demand from either the private or public sectors, Mayor Chuck Pizzo-Lyall stated in a letter that was tabled in the legislative assembly on Oct. 22.
There are 107 people on a waiting list for housing out of a total population of 1,100 in Taloyoak, according to the mayor.
“The chronic unemployment, depressed wages and meagre social assistance that our people cope with on a daily basis guarantee that there is not enough rental revenue available to interest the private sector in building housing units locally,” Pizzo-Lyall wrote. “And it is apparent that (Nunavut Housing Corporation) is incapable of meeting our needs through public housing. Further, we have pursued funding in an attempt to open a homeless shelter and yet have been unsuccessful in obtaining funds for that as well.
“When both the public and private sectors fail us, what are we to do? We are a non-taxed-based community with no way of raising revenue to address these urgent needs; we are entirely dependent upon territorial and federal funding to operate our existing programs and services.”
Netsilik MLA Emiliano Qirngnuq raised the issue in the legislative assembly last week. Taloyoak and Kugaaruk are tentatively set to receive a total of 30 new public housing units over the 2020-21 and 2021-22 fiscal years.
“Although we need more, this is a good start,” said Qirngnuq.
He asked acting Housing Minister Joe Savikataaq what can be done about vacant units that are in need of repair.
Savikataaq said the housing corporation will work with Taloyoak’s local housing organization to address that, but added that “sometimes the repairs are extensive and it takes longer.”
He also noted that the housing corporation is working on a new wait-list methodology.
“Right now the wait-list is provided by the number of applicants and the number of public housing units that are in stock for that community and it’s an equation,” said Savikataaq. “We’re also looking at the age of the housing units in the communities. Right now all that is being worked on and once we have updated it and try to make the wait-list as best as possible so it fulfills the needs of the communities, I can share that with the (MLAs).”
Finally, Savikataaq once again acknowledged the territory’s housing crisis.
“I would love to make more houses every year if we just had more money,” he said. “It is an issue and I will keep on working to try to get more federal funding to make more houses within Nunavut so that there can be more houses built in Nunavut to alleviate the crisis that we are having in housing.”