No more empty houses

emptyhouses

The neighborhood located near the 51 Ave sliding hill includes five empty houses. As you can see from the photo, these properties are well maintained with prompt snow removal in the winter (and grass cutting in the summer). There is heat and light in these houses – but there is nobody home. Nobody has lived in these houses in the nine years we’ve been in this neighborhood. It’s my understanding from our neighbors that these houses haven’t been lived in for decades. Meanwhile thousands and thousands of dollars is being spent each year on maintenance.

A friend of mine did a tax certificate search on the five houses and discovered they belong to the government of Canada. I asked each of the federal candidates what they would do to fill these houses. Michael McLeod, now MP for the NWT, said “we will conduct an inventory of all available federal lands and buildings that could be re-purposed, and make some of these lands available at low cost for affordable housing in communities where there pressing need.” We have the empty houses and a pressing need. All forms of social housing have significant waiting lists. Let’s make sure Mr. McLeod follows through.

There is a similar problem with empty houses in the NWT Housing Corporation’s inventory. Each time there was a territorial anti-poverty meeting in the last six years, people would ask why there were empty houses in their communities, empty despite people living in other houses that were overcrowded and in need of major repairs. The answer was usually that these houses were set aside for home ownership programs. People weren’t satisfied with this answer because their need was immediate and home ownership didn’t interest them.

The time has come to fill the empty houses, whether they are owned by the federal or territorial government and whether they are located in Yellowknife or Gameti. If these houses were available, they would be filled this month. We need new leadership on housing so that everyone has access to a safe, decent, affordable place to live.