Nunavik housing agency apologizes for shed demolition
“We regret the hardship this has caused for him — and to the community”
The Kativik Municipal Housing Bureau says it regrets its decision to destroy a shed that a Quaqtaq man was living in.
That’s after the housing bureau, which oversees more than 3,500 social housing units in Nunavik, sent a five-person crew to the Ungava Bay community Sept. 22 to demolish a shack belonging to a local man who had been evicted from his social housing unit earlier this year.
KMHB manager Watson Fournier told Nunatsiaq News Sept. 24 that the KMHB was only following the provincial eviction process, which requires it to remove all of tenant’s belongings following an eviction notice.
Following this eviction, the Quaqtaq man had moved into a shed, located on the same lot occupied by the rental unit he was evicted from.
“We acted within the requirements of the law of Quebec,” Fournier said. “The shed was on our lot, and we couldn’t arrange to have it moved, so a decision was taken [to tear it down].”
That decision was taken at the end of a “long and complicated eviction process,” which included repeated communication with the tenant, who had not paid his rent for a period of time, Fournier explained.
Fournier would not say how much rent the man actually owed by the time he was evicted, only that the tenant was given “numerous chances to resolve the process.”
“It’s regrettable that his personal property was damaged, but there was opportunity for him to correct that situation,” Fournier said. “Faced with the uncertainty of the situation — that the shed couldn’t be moved [off that lot], a decision was taken.”
What’s regrettable in this case, Fournier said, is that the tenant in question is suffering from cancer, and was in the South for treatment when the demolition took place.
Fournier said the KMHB would have responded differently if staff had understood the situation.
The KMHB and the tenant have since reached an agreement, which will allow him to move back into his unit when he returns to Quaqtaq.
“We regret the hardship this has caused for him — and to the community,” Fournier said. “He didn’t ask for all this attention and said he simply wants to put this behind him.”
As far as Fournier aware, no charges have been pressed against the KMHB for destroying personal property.
The Quaqtaq tenant was one of two social housing tenants in the community to receive eviction orders over the summer.
This is the fourth year that KMHB has carried out its eviction program, and “we don’t do it happily,” Fournier said.
“If we haven’t been able to reach a settlement with a tenant, we feel like it’s a failure on our part,” he said. “We do all we can to help the tenant to come to some kind of arrangement, but for sure, the rent has to be paid.”
Carrying out an eviction is a last resort in Nunavik, Fournier said, given that it comes at a great expense to the housing corporation, which often has to bring in bailiffs from the South.
It is also not a common or regular procedure to demolish property, Fournier added.
Overall, the KMHB has had more success in collecting rents. In 2012, unpaid rent only amounted to $333,025, down from $2.1 million in unpaid rent in 2010.
But the accumulated arrears from 2000 to 2012 still total $15.1 million.