Around 130 homes set aside for isolation during the Covid-19 pandemic will now be added to the NWT’s public housing stock, the housing minister said.
Paulie Chinna said the housing units, in communities around the territory, would be placed into programs for public housing rental and home-buying.
Making the announcement on Monday, the territorial government said approximately 60 units “are available for allocation in the short term.”
Existing public housing tenants will be given priority to purchase units and become home-owners. Each will be given a $20,000 “improvement allowance” to pay for upgrades to units.
“Doing this will free up public housing units and reduce the number of clients currently sitting on wait lists,” the territorial government said.
Some of the 130 units will require either major or minor repairs before becoming available, the NWT Housing Corporation said.
A 2018 Statistics Canada survey suggested two in five NWT residents live in social and affordable housing, where affordable housing is that provided to people earning less than the median household income.
The survey found 5.8 percent of the NWT’s 14,760 households at the time had at least one person waiting for public housing, meaning approximately 850 people in those households were waiting to be approved.
Increasing the availability of public housing ordinarily means relying on federal funding, such as a $60-million fund for cooperative housing earmarked for the NWT. So far, no projects hoping to make use of that funding have received formal federal approval.
The NWT Housing Corporation also has an agreement with the federal government as part of the National Housing Strategy, which was set out in 2017.
“Over the past five years the NWT Housing Corporation has delivered 194 housing units and completed 761 major repairs to existing housing stock,” a spokesperson said. “Overall, this five-year delivery represents a total housing investment of approximately $126 million.”
The corporation currently has a budgeted limit of 2,423 units that can be allocated to social housing and its home ownership program.
In 2017, the corporation said its inventory was “ageing rapidly.” Half of the units owned by the housing corporation were more than 30 years old, and a fifth were more than 40 years old.