Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut March 17, 2014 - 9:27 am

Nunavut MLAs pass housing corporation’s capital budget

NHC to spend $10M of own money on new social housing; $5M on staff housing

DAVID MURPHY

Members of the Nunavut legislative assembly passed the Nunavut Housing Corp.’s $30.2 million capital budget March 13 after two days of discussion.

This year’s budget estimate is $1.4 million more than the revised estimate for the NHC in 2013-2014, and $14 million more than its actual expenditures in 2012-2013.

The NHC is slated to spend $165 million over the next five years.

The biggest slice of this year’s NHC budget will go towards public housing, where the corporation will spend $10 million of its own money, on top of the $100 million fund it’s getting from Ottawa.

This will be used “for the construction of greatly needed public housing units,” said George Kuksuk, the minister responsible for the NHC, in a March 13 committee of the whole meeting.

Another $5 million is going towards staff housing units.

Through the separate, previously announced $100 million fund — not covered in the capital estimates that MLAs looked at — the corporation will spend $100 million on social housing construction over the next two years to build 210 housing units in 12 communities.

They planned to spend the first $30 million chunk in 2013-14 and the remaining $70 million in 2014-15.

That comes from a $100 million fund that Jim Flaherty, the federal finance minister, announced in his government’s March 2013 budget.

That money, an extension of a scheme created in 2011 called “Investment in Affordable Housing,” is managed through a special agreement between the Government of Nunavut and the Canada Housing and Mortgage Corp.

But Kuksuk said there is still a big need for more social housing in Nunavut.

He said Nunavut needs 3,580 new housing units immediately. And that number will grow by an extra 90 units per year, Kuksuk said.

Kuksuk said that would take more than a decade to accomplish, based on today’s costs.

And even if those homes were built immediately, the annual cost of operating and maintaining a bigger stock of public housing units would require the NHC to find tens of millions of extra dollars. 

“The increased annual operating cost in today’s dollars of meeting the current additional housing need of 3,580 units would be $82.3 million plus an additional $2 million each year for the 90 units to keep pace with the population growth,” Kuksuk said.

When asked by Baker Lake MLA Simeon Mikkungwak if there was another way of raising money for extra public housing, Kuksuk said his department will lobby the federal government.

“It’s evident that the funding is not going to be sufficient enough to fulfill the housing requirements,” Kuksuk said.

“So we’ll need to continue to lobby the federal government for more funding. That’s how we can move forward,” he said.

Also in this year’s NHC budget, $6.3 million will go towards various modernization and retrofit programs on existing social housing.

About $4.6 million will go towards various homeownership programs.

And the corporation will get $2.8 million for its fire damage and replacement fund.

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