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Nunatsiavut adopts housing act

The Nunatsiavut Government Assembly building in Hopedale.
The act was passed at the Nunatsiavut Assembly in Hopedale. - Contributed

The Nunatsiavut Government (NG) passed a new housing act during the last meeting of the assembly, and it’s hoped that it will help solve the housing crisis in the region.

Kate Mitchell, first minister of the Nunatsiavut Assembly, told the Labradorian changes had to be made.

“It’s not news for anybody that we’re in a housing crisis, especially in the communities of Nain and Hopedale,” she said. “There are housing issues in all of our communities, and the Torngat Regional Housing Association, they were set up to deliver housing but their mandated to cater to low-income people and there wasn’t enough funding and there were a lot of people falling through the cracks, especially if you have a housing crisis.

NG sees it as a priority, Mitchell said, resulting in the new act.

“It’s the way to respond as best we can to the needs of our people,” she said.

NG held public consultations on the act in most of the communities on the north coast. Mitchell said people agreed a comprehensive approach had to be made to address the crisis.

Mitchell said the housing crisis had impacted the region in many ways. One of those is when NG funds beneficiaries to attend post-secondary schooling, they want the people to return. However, housing is hard to come by.

“We put a lot of emphasis on education, encouraging our youth to go to post-secondary and to come back. The thing about it was, there was no housing available to them when they come back.”

The act is specifically mandated to establish and administer programs for Inuit who are members of a vulnerable group. Mitchell says this includes low-income earners, victims of family violence, single parents and a variety of other sectors.

“This act would cover the whole spectrum of housing and we felt that was what was needed in our communities,” she said.

A shortage of land for homes has been one of the issues for some time, and Mitchell said one of the ways they are going to combat that is through building multiplexes and higher density-units. Building one- and two-bedroom homes is a waste of land at this point, she said, and not something that is sustainable.

It made sense to look at multiplexes and that way we can better offer wraparound services as well,” she said.

They’re looking at a different range of housing for everyone, including things like seniors complexes, Mitchell added.

Now that the act is passed, they have to begin the process of shifting away from the Torngat Regional Housing Association (TRHA) to the new Nunatsiavut Housing Commission, which will oversee all housing in the land-claim area.

The act states as of March 31, 2021 NG will no longer be giving any more housing funding to TRHA. All funding will then go to the new commission.

Mitchell said there will be negotiations between TRHA and the Nunatsiavut executive council to determine what will happen to the association and all its programs, services, assets and personnel.

“We don’t know what role TRHA will be playing, that will be determined,” she said.

The act also allows the new Nunatsiavut Housing Commission the power to establish such things as programs to assist Inuit to make down-payments for the purchase of private homes in Nunatsiavut. This can help people over the income threshold for some of the other programs, she said.

“We feel that can help a lot of our people, youth and elders and lots of other groups.”

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