New building opens in Aklavik, offering help for homeless

 -  - 


The territorial government has opened a new housing complex to help the homeless of Aklavik.

The Beaufort Delta hamlet, with a population of around 650, will use the four-unit building to implement a housing-first model.

"The program intends to house people first and then to focus on improving their housing sustainability by addressing the issues that contributed to their homelessness," read a statement from the NWT Housing Corporation.

Advertisement.

The Aklavik Indian Band, a partner in the project, will help occupants of the housing access social programs they need.

The housing corporation said the building, with four furnished bachelor units, demonstrated the territorial government is addressing high demand for more single-person housing.

As a community prone to flooding, older housing stock in Aklavik suffers from a range of issues. A study in 2013 quoted one community member as suggesting homes built prior to the 1980s were "in dire need of replacement."

Using data collected from tax returns, the NWT Bureau of Statistics says a third of the community's taxpayers in 2016 were in low income – significantly more than the territorial and Beaufort Delta averages.

Advertisement.

In 2014, a community survey suggested a fifth of households in Aklavik required major repairs. This represented a significant improvement on earlier years and a better figure than that reported in many other communities, but remained almost double the territorial average.

There are no definitive, public figures for the number of people in Aklavik affected by some form of homelessness or related vulnerability.

Though not directly related, the opening of the new building comes within a month of the NWT signing a 10-year deal worth nearly $140 million with the federal government for more housing supports.

Under that agreement, the territory will build and repair more low-cost and community housing while implementing a new housing benefit.

Advertisement.