Housing construction on track

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Nunavut Housing Corporation (NHC) says 90 new housing units announced last fall are on track for completion by fall 2018.

Cape Dorset’s new 5-plex is under construction. That community is one of eight which will have new public units for 2017-2018. Progress varies by community and most are in the very early stages of construction.
photo courtesy Nunavut Housing Corporation

“The projects were tendered and contracted in March and April of this year, so the materials are being shipped this current sea-lift season,” corporation president Terry Audla told Nunavut News/North via e-mail.

“The progress varies by community. Most are in the very early stages of construction. Construction on the 90 units is expected to be complete by fall 2018.”

Meanwhile, contracts for the 95 units announced for 2018-2019 will be tendered this coming winter and spring.

“The NHC follows GN procurement regulations, and all construction contracts are awarded through the public tender process. Contracts for the 90 public housing units were awarded to 4 different contractors, all of which are NNI registered and employ local labour,” said Audla, adding progress varies by community and most are in early stages of construction.

Behind the scenes, the corporation continues to work with federal, territorial and provincial counterparts in the development of a National Housing Strategy and an associated multilateral agreement.

“Northern housing will be a priority within the National Housing Strategy, and the NHC has been collaborating with the Northwest Territories and Yukon to ensure the priorities of the territories are addressed,” said Audla.

As the funding situation stands, as announced in the federal budget earlier this year, Nunavut is to receive $240 million over 11 years. Audla says this will allow the corporation to “maximize outcomes of housing investments.”

“The investment is intended to help offset the higher cost of construction in the North, and support territorial efforts to improve housing conditions. The investments are considered a top-up to the Investment in Affordable Housing initiative, and the new multilateral framework, currently under development,” he said.

“The funds identified are a step in the right direction, but much more funding and federal support will be required now and in the future to properly address Nunavut’s severe housing crisis.”

Due to current staffing levels, the maximum number of units the corporation can build each year ranges from 100 to 200.

“However, the number would vary depending on funding timelines, available land, staff capacity, and other logistical matters.”

While Audla said the corporation cannot speak about specific cases of overcrowding, he noted there are currently several units with 14 or more people living in them.

“And approximately 38 per cent of public housing units are overcrowded,” he said.

But even as the corporation builds, units were lost to fire in Pangnirtung – by arson – and Pond Inlet in June.

“As we know, Nunavut is dealing with a severe housing shortage. House fires threaten the already limited housing stock in Nunavut,” said Audla.

“The NHC urges all tenants to be extra vigilant about fire safety. The NHC puts out newspaper ads to remind tenants about fire safety, and publishes an annual calendar that includes fire prevention tips.”