Homelessness and transitional housing

Déclarations et discours de ministres

(March 14, 2013) - Mr. Speaker, addressing housing needs is a priority of the 17th Legislative Assembly and the NWT Housing Corporation offers a range of programs along the housing continuum to help residents meet their shelter needs. Public housing, supports to third party organizations that provide low-cost housing, rent supplements, homeownership repair programs, and subsidies to help low and modest income purchase homes all help residents depending on their needs. But there is more work to do and homelessness is another of the important housing issues in the Northwest Territories.

Homelessness is a complex issue with many factors and the government has a wide variety of programs that support those who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. This year, the Small Communities Homelessness Fund and the Homelessness Assistance Fund were transferred, along with the $325,000 in program funding, to the NWT Housing Corporation from Health and Social Services.

Mr. Speaker, with the support provided through the Small Communities Homelessness Fund, 13 community organizations are being assisted with projects which include soup kitchens, food banks, food rescue programs, and supports for shelter programs to name a few. One particularly interesting project includes the rental of garden plots at the Inuvik Community Garden. Homeless residents are involved in the planting and tending of the garden plots right through to harvest. 

The Small Community Homelessness Fund is an application-based program and currently there are projects in Aklavik, Inuvik, Fort Simpson, Deline, Fort McPherson, Hay River, Fort Smith, Behchoko and Ulukhaktok.

The Homelessness Assistance Fund provides assistance to individuals to help resolve their homelessness situation or to avoid homelessness. This is a fund of last resort which clients access through delivery agents like community social service workers. The fund is targeted to address situations where unforeseen events occur like where a job is lost or unexpected expenses happen. During 2012-13 a total of 36 applicants have been assisted through the Homelessness Assistance Fund.

The NWT Housing Corporation remains committed to supporting Betty House with a contribution of approximately $2.3 million committed to through the MOU signed in February 2012. Betty House will provide transitional housing for women and their children. It is expected that these funds will have a significant impact in ensuring the completion of Betty House and we believe that this initiative is an important part of our overall priority to ensure our sustainable and vibrant communities are filled with healthy, educated people free from poverty.

Mr. Speaker, the NWT Housing Corporation’s strategic plan identified strengthening the approach to homelessness and transitional housing as a priority. The NWT Housing Corporation continues to work with our partners, including other levels of government and community organizations, to provide assistance to those in need.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.