Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut June 04, 2012 - 6:46 am

Nunavut housing minister coy about new social housing rent scale

“We’re preparing options for consideration"

NUNATSIAQ NEWS
Social housing still remains in short supply in Nunavut communities like Cambridge Bay, shown here, where new units where under construction last fall. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)
Social housing still remains in short supply in Nunavut communities like Cambridge Bay, shown here, where new units where under construction last fall. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)

Nunavummiut can expect a new social housing rent scale by 2013, according to Nunavut Housing Minister Peter Taptuna.

“One of the things that we’re trying to do with the review and amendment through the rent scale is to encourage economic activity and employment,” said Taptuna in the Nunavut legislature June 1. “We’re preparing options for consideration, with an anticipated implementation of a new rent scale by 2013.”

This could mean higher rents for people on social assistance, so there’s less incentive for tenants not to work.

When Government of Nunavut released its Makimaniq action plan last February, Premier Eva Aariak also committed a revision of the public housing scale, to reduce disincentives to employment and support other social programs, saying that “some people refrain from acquiring jobs so their rent won’t increase and that has been a major problem.”

Gjoa Haven and Taloyoak MLA Jeannie Ugyuk asked Taptuna about the social housing rent scale when she brought up the Nunavut Housing Corporation’s 2012-15 business plan during question period, saying the new rent scale was supposed to be ready for early 2012-2013.

“Communities in Nunavut are experiencing an overwhelming housing shortage, including my communities,” said Ugyuk, also questioning Taptuna over the new affordable housing agreement that the Government of Nunavut and federal government agreed to on Dec. 15, 2011.

Ugyuk asked for an update on that agreement and how many new housing units it would bring.

Although Taptuna did not give an exact number of new housing units in store, he did talk about where the money would come from — and Nunavut will have to put in more money towards social housing construction than before.

“This government and the housing corporation is prepared to match federal investment on a new cost-matching ratio of 50-50,” he said. The old ratio was 75 per cent funding from the federal government and 25 per cent from the GN.

Taptuna took aim at the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, which recently said housing in Iqaluit is getting easier to afford.

“We do not agree with this analysis of the affordability of housing in Iqaluit,” said Taptuna, “and can only assume that there has been some misinterpretation of the facts.I say this because CMHC’s definition of affordability is that the carrying costs of shelter, which include the mortgage, taxes, heat, utilities, and maintenance, must not exceed 32 percent of a household’s gross income. As such, the purchase price alone is not sufficient to determine affordability.”

Iqaluit is said to be Canada’s most expensive rental market, with the average renter paying $2,265 a month according to a January Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation report. The Canadian average is $835.

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