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NWT to ‘fully use’ housing fund they were given more than a year ago

The GNWT has announced they plan to spend the $60 million the federal government carved out for them to build affordable housing in a number of communities.

The funding carve-out, money designated for the NWT out of a larger federal fund, was announced in February 2019.

Federal Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Ahmed Hussen says the announcement came with greater urgency now because of the shorter building season in the Northwest Territories.

“It was a question of collaboration of partnership, we had to consult the GNWT we had to get their consent on how to proceed with a carve out,” said Hussen.

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The money will build and renovate 126 new affordable housing units.

Sixty of those units will become public housing, managed by the NWT Housing Corporation. The units will be built in 16 remote communities, with the maintenance costs covered by the federal government — totalling $1.5 million a year.

NWT Housing Minister Paulie Chinna said the GNWT looked at the waitlist to determine which communities would be receiving funding for new housing projects.

The remaining $34.5 million will go to Indigenous governments and organizations to build and renovate 66 affordable homes through the repair and new construction of mixed-income, mixed-tenure, and mixed-use housing.

Minister Chinna said the announcement presented tangible progress towards combating housing issues in the territory.

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Hussen says the federal government has spent six times per capita on housing in northern Canada compared to the rest of Canada. Part of that is because of the unique challenges that building in the NWT presents, he added.

A presentation on the fund was given to Indigenous leadership at the Northern Housing Summit held in Inuvik in April 2019. This summit helped develop the strategy for spending the territory’s carve-off, says Chinna.

The National Housing Co-investment Fund comes from the federal government’s National Housing Strategy is a 10-year, $70 billion plan.

The Rapid Housing Initiative is a $1 billion fund aimed at addressing urgent housing needs by rapidly building affordable homes. According to a report by Cabin Radio, a number of organizations had been rejected for applications to the Rapid Housing Initiative because the $60-million carve out had not been spent. 

Hussen said there weren’t enough dollars in the Rapid Housing Initiative fund to approve the applications from organizations in the NWT, but he hoped there would be more funding in the future. 

He added NWT organizations would be able to apply for the general fund in the National Housing Co-Investment fund, which has not been specifically allocated.

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