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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Housing and northern allowance for home owners in the NWT

Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk are foreseeing an increase in tourism this summer. Samantha McKay/NNSL photo

From: Ernest Taylor Pokiak, Tuktoyaktuk

Dear editor,

This is an opportune time to send a message to the GNWT regarding home ownership in the territory. In 1984-85, the government introduced the HAP program as a first for Northerners. Since then other housing programs have come into being. The government also introduced the housing allowance of $5,400 per year to promote home ownership for government employees.

This is how the program was set up. First, the application process, second; the local selection committee, third; criteria: successful candidates were interviewed. Then the housing corporation consulted the applicants: how many hair cuts, heating oil, food, gas, snowmobiles and power would they need. When all information was gathered it made one think, this is a continuous cost to own a home until you sell the home or die. Eventual OAS pensions fall short of owning a home. To own a home in Tuk, take home dollars would need to be approximately $120,000. Anything less and homes become impossible to manage and maintain.

I am mindful of all the good housing programs but for the most part they were set up to fail. Two things should be considered to ensure the programs work. First, homeowners should be provided with housing allowances in communities of up to 4,000 inhabitants. Second, there should not be any discrimination to the amount of money one takes home from an honest day's work. There are dollars in the system where one can apply for home repair programs, but it is for a select group. The way it is now, a homeowner could easily become a poor person.