N.W.T. Housing Minister Lucy Kuptana said 100 new public housing units have been built or are close to being built — the first time the territory's public housing stock has been expanded in decades, she told the legislature Thursday.
But one MLA said the new units barely make a dent in her region alone.
"For Indigenous people living in the Tłı̨chǫ region, housing is a nightmare," Jane Weyallon Armstrong, the MLA for Monfwi, said during Thursday's sitting.
"More than one out of every three units in the Tłı̨chǫ region are either not adequate, affordable or suitable for residents."
List of N.W.T. communities included in the announcement of 100 new units. (Submitted by Housing N.W.T.)
She said there are over 200 people on the housing waitlist in the Tłı̨chǫ region, some of which have been on that list for years. She told CBC News many of the existing homes in the four N.W.T. communities have broken doors, faulty plumbing, mechanical issues, mould or problems with their foundation.
Kuptana said the units are being built with the help of investments from the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation and Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada totalling more than $50 million. She said the 100 new units are either already completed, or will be completed within the next six months. She said 60 of them will be single units, 30 are duplexes and 10 are for seniors outside of the regional centres.
All units were constructed by companies from the North, she said.
New units are going to 27 communities, with the highest number of units — eight — going to Behchokǫ̀ and Fort Resolution.
Kuptana said transportation related delays are partially responsible for the units that haven't yet been completed, like barge cancellations due to low water levels.
Weyallon Armstrong said she worries the two units allocated to Gamètı̀ won't be completed by spring since the community's winter road still hasn't opened.
Monfwi MLA Jane Weyallon Armstrong said there are more than 200 people on the housing waitlist in the Tłı̨chǫ region. (Julie Plourde/Radio-Canada)
Weyallon Armstrong said her riding's housing crunch has been made worse by the homes lost during this summer's wildfires. She said families whose homes burned down were put into public housing units that became available.
"So some of those people that were on the waitlist, that were on top, they went down the list," she said.
Wekweètı̀ is the only Tłı̨chǫ community not getting new housing in the announcement but Weyallon Armstrong said Wekweètı̀ also struggles with overcrowding and has a housing waitlist.
"It's not enough," she said.
She also said she hasn't seen progress on retrofits promised from the last government to homes in Gamètı̀ and Whatı̀.
Weyallon Armstrong said housing is top of mind as MLAs move to discuss this assembly's priorities in the coming days.