‘We have to just hope’: Hawa Dumbaya-Sesay

A headhost of Dumbaya-Sesay. (Supplied by YWCA NWT.)
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The NWT YWCA has sounded the alarm about the lack of affordable housing in Yellowknife and elsewhere in the territory.

Hawa Dumbaya-Sesay, executive director of the YWCA NWT, says around 50 families are on the waitlist for housing just with the YWCA.

There are a number of NGO’s in Yellowknife who provide shelter and housing.

YWCA is the only one who houses families.

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They meet with families, and set up housing for them, often taking over leases for people who can’t pay

“If we don’t have funding to subsidize their rent, then we are on the hook for that money. Actually, it’s really tricky and like a huge liability for us. To take on those, but that’s where we’re at this point where we have to step in and do those, or else we’ll have many people that will go without housing.”

Hawa Dumbaya-Sesay

Finding funding that is continuous over multiple years is difficult.

That makes signing leases to provide houses to these families precarious, and adds risk for the organization.

“Each year, we have to do this dance … So you can just imagine how tricky it is if you go in, as an NGO, taking on leases for people and you sign a one year lease, what happens when that ends, when the funding ends? For your lease is it still ongoing? Right? That’s one of the challenges.”

Hawa Dumbaya-Sesay

Around 50 families are on the YWCA’s waitlist.

But until more affordable housing is built, Dumbaya-Sesay says they will continue to try to find housing for people when possible.

“We have to just hope, we have some hope and try to find money again. But it’s not promised, right? It’s not something that you’re guaranteed that it’s gonna come, you have to just keep applying and finding different sources of funding, and hope that you can be able to, or else we are responsible for it, or responsible for paying that.”

Hawa Dumbaya-Seesay
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