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Image by Wiktor Karkocha

Priority #2

HOUSING AND AFFORDABILITY

Every northerner deservers a roof over their head...

Almost every government has indicated resolving the shortage in housing as a priority but we have yet to see real action and appropriate investment

 

The cost of living keeps going up in the territory and current inflation levels are unbearable. Northerners spend a huge portion of their income on rent, and other everyday needs like grocery and utility costs. Costs like the carbon tax with no real alternative solutions only add insult to injury 

 

According to the NWT Bureau of Statistics, over 42% of households in the NWT are living with core housing problems and more than 26.6% of Yellowknife Indigenous households struggle to afford rent. Northerners do not have their core housing needs met, don’t get service calls addressed, or end up homeless. 

 

Part of the challenge with ongoing repair and maintenance of homes besides cost of repairs in small communities is the shortage of trained technicians and trades people to do the work. Housing NWT often has to fly technicians from Yellowknife into small communities and it sometimes takes months if not years

 

Housing in Yellowknife

 

While the population of the NWT dropped by 1.7% in the last census, that of Yellowknife grew by 1.5%. Yellowknife alone faces higher core housing challenges (affordable, adequate and suitable) than anywhere else in the country

Housing shortage in the NWT can be attributed to:

 

  • Inadequate government spending and prioritizing

  • high cost of developing new housing infrastructure

  • inadequate repairs and maintenance of existing housing 

  • low rate of unemployment  

  • population growth in regional centers like Yellowknife

  • aging population with evolving housing needs for seniors

  • unavailable land for new construction       

 

Every northerner deserves a roof over their head - and every part of our society would be better for it. Our government needs to take bold action to make more public housing available, encourage more homes to be built, and get those roofs over heads faster. 

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Solutions

HOUSING AND AFFORDABILITY

Short Term

 

  • Explore further the option of introducing a rent control to match inflation

 

  • Develop strong policies around renovictions to create better supports for tenant and landlord

 

  • Explore a pre-emptive rights policy, giving governments the first opportunity within a limited time period to explore investment options on derelict buildings in some downtown areas.

 

  • Double the tax incentive for new construction or adaptive reuse of existing buildings. This will incentivize more developers to make the jump and invest in building new affordable housing in Yellowknife. Government alone cannot take on building houses; we need to leverage private investment to get this done.

  • Through Effective collaboration, GNWT should work with the City of Yellowknife to ensure that the NWT Housing Action plan is effectively communicating with the City of Yellowknife's plan for housing

  • Increase investment in housing infrastructure by allocating more government money. This will reduce the NWT core housing needs to match the Canadian average and begin to resolve housing scarcity

 

  • Transfer vacant public lands to the City of Yellowknife to put that land to work immediately 

 

Long-term

 

  • Explore joint investment housing development and other capital projects with indigenous governments and their business development corporations across the NWT. This will allow the opportunity for indigenous governments to be directly involved in delivering housing in their communities and also ensure some economic sustainability   

 

  • Work in partnership with indigenous governments across the NWT to secure federal funding through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), the Housing Accelerator Fund and the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program 

 

  • Government should explore partnering with indigenous governments and communities to develop trades apprenticeship programs to train community members to act as first responders on housing maintenance issues in communities. This will reduce wait times, create jobs and reduce overall government maintenance cost
     

  • GNWT needs to be more aggressive with investing in land purchase and converting old derelict properties into public housing, especially in regional centers. We need to see more deals like the purchase of the Aspen property in Yellowknife by GNWT to now being turned into public housing 
     

  •  Create more opportunity for co-op housing

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