Vacant Housing Unit Strategy

Ministers' Statements and Speeches

February 16, 2011 - The Minister of the NWT Housing Corporation (NWTHC), Robert C. McLeod, provided Members of the Legislative Assembly with an update on the NWTHC's Vacant Housing Unit Strategy.


Mr. Speaker, the Government recognizes that improving the quality and cost of housing will reduce the cost of living in communities across the Northwest Territories. Today, I would like to update Members and the public on the the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation’s (NWTHC) Vacant Housing Unit Strategy.

Concerns have been raised with the number of vacant units the NWTHC has in its portfolio in certain communities. Primarily, these vacant units resulted from our aggressive capital infrastructure construction and repair program to deliver housing within the timeframes set out under the Affordable Housing Initiative and Canada’s Economic Action Plan.

The NWTHC has taken action to address these concerns. As a first step, the NWTHC’s 2011-12 program intake has been completed. While we continue to work with potential successful clients, we are projecting that 82 vacant units will be allocated to prospective homeowners in the coming months through primary and secondary intakes of Housing Choices, as well as through the identification of gaps in our programs.

Second, the NWTHC has identified other solutions to fill vacant housing. The NWTHC has considered options and projected the potential allocations of units, on a community by community basis, looking at broader community needs and utilizing a number of options that will facilitate a reduction in the overall vacancy rate.

Mr. Speaker, perhaps the most significant of these options is the potential conversion of units to public housing. Demand for public housing across the NWT remains strong, and the need for public housing is particularly evident in those rural and remote communities where no current public housing exists. The best housing option for many residents in need in the NWT is public housing. Therefore we are projecting the conversion of 37 of our vacant housing units to new public housing before August 30, 2011, with an additional 12 units being used to replace existing public housing. Remaining units will be utilized based on community input for purposes such as RCMP housing, housing for staff, or sale to community groups.

We recognize that many communities have less public housing than they need, and in some specific communities, there is no public housing program. Therefore, the addition of public housing units to our portfolio is not merely an option to fill vacant units, but is part of an overall GNWT approach to providing affordable housing now and into the future.

Our work to expand our portfolio of public housing must take into consideration that federal funding for the operation and maintenance of social housing is declining. We continue to work with our provincial and territorial colleagues to convince the Federal government to address the long-term sustainability of social housing in our territory and across the country. In addition, the Housing Corporation continues to improve its housing designs, improve energy efficiency, examine areas of program gaps as well as analyse maintenance requirements to lower operating costs and ensure the most effective use of resources.

The past five years of housing construction has left an important legacy in our communities – adequate, suitable and affordable housing that can meet the housing needs of our residents for years to come and substantive progress on the Assembly’s goal of sustainable, vibrant, safe communities.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.





For more information, contact:

Press Secretary
Office of the Premier/Cabinet
Government of the Northwest Territories
Phone: (867) 669-2302