Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavik September 08, 2017 - 8:00 am

Nunavik’s public housing office cancels evictions for 2017

KMHB will take a year to consider other ways to get tenants to pay up

SARAH ROGERS
Nunavimmiut protest social housing evictions in 2013 in front of the KMHB’s head office in Kuujjuaq. (FILE PHOTO)
Nunavimmiut protest social housing evictions in 2013 in front of the KMHB’s head office in Kuujjuaq. (FILE PHOTO)

The Kativik Municipal Housing Bureau has decided against issuing eviction notices this year to Nunavik’s public housing tenants who are behind in paying rent.

The KMHB’s board of directors voted last week to cancel evictions in 2017 and instead look at other ways to encourage Nunavimmiut tenants to pay up.

“The board decided to take a year off to think about the process,” said Marie-Christine Vanier, a spokesperson at the housing office.

“No one likes to evict anyone,” she said. “And they felt they didn’t have enough information to make that decision.”

Nunavik’s public housing office must deal with millions in unpaid rent every year.

The agency only started issuing eviction notices in 2010 to tenants who owed more than $10,000 in rent.

For its first round of evictions, the KMHB gave tenants time to respond and pay at least part of their rent arrears, sending them “last chance” letters and then advising them before the arrival of a bailiff to serve the formal eviction papers.

But evictions cause an uproar in the region each fall. Nunavimmiut have complained that, in a region with a major housing shortage, evictions essentially leave tenants homeless.

“There aren’t any options left,” Vanier acknowledged. “Once [renters] are evicted, they might not have anywhere to go.”

At the same time, the KMHB has accumulated millions of dollars in arrears since 2000 that it’s struggled to collect.

The housing office didn’t have an updated tally on unpaid rent in 2017. But its arrears sat at $17.8 million in 2015—the highest the KHMB had seen so far.

Vanier said Nunavimmiut are relieved and welcome the KMHB’s decision.

Some Nunavimmiut public housing tenants may have received initial eviction notices in August, before KMHB directors made the decision to cancel evictions this year—though all evictions are cancelled for the year, she confirmed.

“But it doesn’t mean we won’t do evictions next year,” Vanier said. “It’s a time of reflection, to think of other ways to encourage people to pay rent.”

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