Gjoa Haven struggles with one of Nunavut’s highest homeless rates
Housing association hoping to convert house into homeless shelter
Gjoa Haven is doing all it can to get stranded families into homes.
Gjoa Haven MLA Tony Akoak told the Legislative Assembly March 10 that the town’s local housing association wants to renovate an empty home for displaced families.
“Gjoa Haven is one of many Nunavut communities that lack a shelter for homeless residents,” Akoak said in a member’s statement.
In the western Nunavut town of just under 1,400 people, Akoak said 50 families are without a home.
“As a result of this need, the local housing association is looking into renovating an abandoned home for the purpose of converting it into a homeless shelter,” he said.
It’s Akoak’s hope the Nunavut Housing Corp. will purchase the home and transfer it to the local housing association so it can be turned into a homeless shelter.
Akoak asked the minister responsible for homelessness, Jeannie Ugyuk, if this is possible.
Ugyuk didn’t respond directly to Akoak’s idea, but said she wants to work closely with the Hamlet of Gjoa Haven and George Kuksuk, minister responsible for the Nunavut Housing Corp., to help with the homelessness problem.
Ugyuk said her department wants to help homeless people, “especially when they get evicted.”
“Gjoa Haven people have struck a letter to the housing manager to see how they can work more closely with the hamlet council,” Ugyuk said.
Akoak also asked for an official count of exactly how many homeless people there are in Gjoa Haven.
Last month the Government of Nunavut’s Department of Family Services announced its plans for a homelessness count , the first since 2010.
Results from the new homelessness survey might be released next spring or in the fall session of the Legislative Assembly, Ugyuk said.
An estimated 1,200 people in the territory are homeless, according to a 2010 Nunavut Housing Needs survey.
That survey indicated Gjoa Haven is one of the most overcrowded communities in Nunavut, with almost six in 10 dwellings being overcrowded.
But the new homelessness survey has only been conducted in Nunavut’s three largest communities: Rankin Inlet, Iqaluit and Cambridge Bay.
“If the community is interested, please call my department or my office,” Ugyuk told Akoak.
According to a GN strategy called Igluliuqatigiilauqta “Let’s build a home together,”90 to 100 new units ought to be built each year in the territory to keep pace with Nunavut’s population growth.