Little progress on Inuit housing crisis in past 5 years: ‘It’s been a struggle’ – National

Meeka Atagootak says the home in Pond Inlet on Nunavut’s Baffin Island that she shares with her children and grandchildren is « unlivable » 12 years after a tanker hit and damaged it.

The eldest says she has had to deal with flooding, rusting pipes, mold and deteriorating foundations, leading to frequent health problems.

Getting help was slow, she said.

« It’s been a struggle when nobody really cares about us, » she recently told the House of Commons Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs in Inuktitut.

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Atagootak said she struggled to get federal help because she owns her home and her insurance doesn’t meet the needs of the North. By the time the repair supplies arrived by sea, she said, they were no longer adequate as the problems with her home had worsened.

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Atagootak is one of thousands of Inuit facing housing challenges in Inuit Nunangat – Canada’s Inuit homeland comprising communities in Nunavut, the Northwest Territories, northern Quebec and Labrador.

A recent Statistics Canada report indicates that the housing crisis has improved little over the past five years and, in some cases, has worsened.

Census data from 2021 shows nearly one-third of the approximately 49,000 Inuit who live in Inuit Nunangat lived in housing in need of major repairs, a 1.2% increase since 2016. Overall, about 53% of Inuit in Inuit Nunangat were living in crowded housing in 2021, down 1.2% from five years ago.

Inuit have faced housing issues since the federal government established the first permanent settlements in the North in the 1950s. Problems like overcrowding and black mold have been documented in many homes in recent years.

A 2017 report by the Standing Senate Committee on Indigenous Peoples detailed the severity of the housing crisis in Inuit Nunangat and called on the federal government to provide stable, long-term funding, among other measures.

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In March 2021, then-Nunavut NDP Mumulaaq Qaqqaq released a report documenting « inhumane » housing conditions in several communities, including holes in the walls, sewer issues and crumbling floors.

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Qaqqaq said the fault « lies entirely with the federal government » because the Nunavut Housing Corporation is underfunded.

“My people need help. They need this help now. Promises don’t get rid of mold. Words don’t fix windows and doors. Empathy doesn’t fix leaky pipes,” she wrote.

Living in poor housing conditions has been linked to the spread of disease, chronic illness, poor mental health and family violence, and can contribute to poor socioeconomic outcomes. A 2019 study in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health found this to be a factor in the disproportionately high rates of tuberculosis among Inuit.

Housing problems in Canada’s North are compounded by the cold and changeable climate, lack of transportation infrastructure, short construction season and high costs.

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In a 2022 pre-budget submission, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, an organization representing Inuit in Canada, said more than $3 billion would be needed over the next decade to build needed new housing and maintain and repair existing homes. in Inuit Nunangat.

The 2022 federal budget promised $150 million between 2022 and 2024 to support affordable housing and related infrastructure in the North, including $60 million each for the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. It also included $845 million over seven years for housing in Inuit communities and plans to jointly develop and launch a northern, urban and rural Indigenous housing strategy.

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The federal government said that since 2018, Inuit regions have built 120 units with funding from the Inuit Nunangat Housing Strategy. Since the end of 2021, he said, a total of $173.8 million has been invested in the creation or repair of 873 housing units in Inuit Nunangat under the National Housing Strategy.

“We recognize that there is still work to be done, which is why we are committed to working hand-in-hand with our Indigenous partners to ensure everyone has a safe and affordable place to call home,” a spokesperson wrote. of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. E-mail.

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Housing NWT said since partnering with the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation in 2018, 34 new social housing units have been built in the Inuvialuit region. And over the past three years, it has carried out major repairs and renovations to 56 homes. The Housing Authority and the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation are currently working on a housing strategy.

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In its mandate released in March, the Government of Nunavut committed to developing at least 1,000 housing units. A 2020 territorial report estimated that 3,545 households were in need of housing.

The Nunavut Housing Corporation’s 2020-2021 Annual Report indicates that the construction of 20 social housing units and 12 staff housing units was completed this fiscal year. Several construction projects, including housing, have since been canceled due to rising costs.

In an email, he added that he had spent more than $26 million to tackle mold in public housing since 2016, and he added $7 million to deal with mold in his 2022-23 budget. .

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