We’ll draft definition of term “homelessness,” Nunavut government says
“Nunavut lacks a single, shared definition, perhaps because several forms of homelessness can be included"
The Government of Nunavut has yet to adopt or endorse any official definition of homelessness, the minister responsible for that file told the legislative assembly June 10.
But Jeannie Ugyuk committed the GN to working with territorial organizations to develop a Nunavut-specific definition of the term.
Ugyuk was responding to a question from Tununiq MLA Joe Enook, who asked for clarification following a recent point-in-time survey carried out by the GN which counted fewer than 100 homeless Nunavummiut in the territory’s three largest communities.
Those results caused some confusion, though, since the 2010 Nunavut Housing Needs Survey estimated that about 1,200 Nunavummiut are homeless.
But the goal of the latest survey was quite different, said the GN, which hoped to get a clearer picture by grabbing a snapshot of Nunavummiut who are considered truly homeless.
That would not include “hidden” homeless, or people who double up in housing, couch surf or sleep in shifts.
But Tununiq MLA Joe Enook said earlier this month that leading people to believe there are only 98 homeless people in Nunavut is “a disgrace.”
“I think I’m more confused after that statement then I was before,” Enook said earlier this month, asking the GN for a clearer definition of the term homelessness.
Ugyuk explained June 10 that the GN had a memorandum of understanding with Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., which at the time she believed defined homelessness.
“The memorandum of understanding that I referred to in my [earlier] response is the one between the Government of Nunavut and Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated, which focuses on poverty reduction,” Ugyuk told the assembly June 10.
“That memorandum of understanding does not define homelessness. My apologies for the misunderstanding this has caused.”
Currently, Ugyuk said, the GN has not adopted any official definition of the term.
Ugyuk pointed to the GN’s Long-term Comprehensive Housing Strategy which notes that “Nunavut lacks a single, shared definition of homelessness, perhaps because several forms of homelessness can be included.”
“We recognize this, and we will consult with the homelessness support community throughout Nunavut “and a variety of stakeholders, including Inuit organizations, to develop a Nunavut-specific definition of homelessness,” Ugyuk told the legislature.
Regardless of definition, Ugyuk said the 93 people who completed the recent homelessness survey have produced valuable information about how people fine themselves homeless in Nunavut, and what they need to find and maintain housing.