Amid the far-reaching housing crisis, Iqaluit’s homeless are among the nation’s most burdened sectors.
The federal government has previously estimated that Nunavut needs more than 3,000 affordable units to accommodate current housing demand.
With over 4,900 individuals on the waiting list for low-cost housing, a significant proportion of the city’s homeless are Inuit forced to live in run-down homes. Many of these people are either elderly or stuck taking care of small children – and those who do have employment and incomes are not fortunate enough to be able to afford the market’s rental rates.
The Nunavut capital’s average monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment stood at $2,648 in 2017, the latest CMHC reading for the oft-neglected market.
A recent announcement by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau might offer a semblance of hope: The federal government has vowed a $290-million, eight-year investment in developing and expanding Iqaluit’s social and community housing.
“We recognize that this is a big step forward that is going to make a huge difference in creating thousands of homes and we know this is really going to make a tangible impact in the lives of people here in the North,” Trudeau stated, as quoted by The Canadian Press.
However, while Nunavut Premier Joe Savikataaq and Iqaluit Mayor Madeleine Redfern welcomed the endowment, they stressed that the severity of the situation requires more drastic, immediate action.
“Nunavut is a cold and harsh environment and it’s no place for anyone to be homeless and we’re happy for this funding. We also need transitional housing and homeless shelter funding,” Savikataaq emphasized.
Average temperatures in Iqaluit have been measured to go as low as -27 °C.
“This is like the tip of the iceberg, but we are thankful for what we’re getting and we’ll be working with the federal government to come up with a good strategy in terms of how to alleviate more of our housing crisis here,” Savikataaq added.
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