Groups meet to discuss Housing Action Plan on one year anniversary

The territory’s Housing Action Plan is one year old, but so far, it seems little progress has been made.

The territory’s Housing Action Plan is one year old, but so far, it seems little progress has been made.

At a housing forum last week, five members of the plan’s implementation committee provided an update on the work done during this first year.

Lars Hartling, vice-president of the Yukon Residential Landlords Association, said one of the biggest challenges so far has been a delay in the compilation of data – statistics on everything from rental rates and housing stock to homelessness and demographics – from a variety of sources, including Statistics Canada, the Yukon Bureau of Statistics, the point-in-time homelessness count and First Nations housing departments.

“We cannot solve housing problems without quality data,” Hartling said at the forum. “We also need to talk to the frontline people so that we can correlate that the data is correct. But still, we cannot just be throwing blindly our funding around.”

The Yukon Housing Corporation issued a request for proposals (RFP) in January for this task – pulling information together to create a full picture of all the existing data.

For the implementation committee, this has been the most important contract, said Mary Cameron, vice-president of corporate services with the Yukon Housing Corporation.

Two other RFPs were released in January – one for the creation of a communications and marketing strategy, and the other for a housing education plan, which would involve a review of the housing education programs that exist in the territory, such as Yukon Housing’s Home Ownership Preparedness and Education and Blood Ties Four Directions Centre’s Rent Well.

All three contracts were awarded in February. The data contract was awarded to a Whitehorse consultant for $42,000.

But sometime between then and this month, the implementation committee decided to hire another firm to handle the project instead.

This was “due to considerations with where (the local contractor’s) work plan was,” said Cameron.

“The concern was more around the type of research that was being done. We were looking for on-the-ground conversations with housing providers, with non-profit sectors, with First Nations, not just statistical analysis that’s found (online).”

Cameron couldn’t say when the local contractor stopped working on the project.

Options Consulting, a Vancouver-based firm that had the second-lowest bid on the project, at $56,000, began compiling the data just this month.

Cameron said Options Consulting had been busy until this month working on the education program contract, which it had also been awarded.

The Housing Action Plan identifies a need for current, reliable data to help understand housing issues.

“Organizations working throughout the (housing) continuum spoke to a general lack of data and statistics upon which to base decision-making,” it states.

Cameron said there are many sources of data, but each exists in a silo. Connecting them is important.

During last week’s panel, Bill Thomas of the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition pointed out the inherent challenge in the committee’s work: “Housing needs are immediate. Building things takes time.”

He said that 90 per cent of people who responded to the point-in-time homelessness count, which was conducted over a 24-hour period in April, said they wanted safe, stable, permanent housing.

The count identified 256 people in Whitehorse who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

Cameron said it’s difficult to measure housing progress in just one year’s time.

“I think what we can measure is how many agencies are still committed,” she said. “It’s more than just one agency picking up the torch and solving housing. So with that, I think what we’ve seen over the last year is agencies working together in partnership.”

There are some projects newly underway, the benefits of which won’t be seen for a year or two, she said, such as the new Salvation Army building under construction on Fourth Avenue.

The Housing Action Plan was released last June. It sets out goals and recommendations across three pillars – housing with services, rental housing and home ownership – over 10 years, until 2025.

The implementation committee held its first meeting in August. It’s made up of 19 organizations, including the Association of Yukon Communities, the City of Whitehorse, the Council of Yukon First Nations, the RCMP, the Yukon Chamber of Commerce and the Yukon Council on Aging.

The committee meets monthly.

Contact Rhiannon Russell at

Just Posted

City of Whitehorse tells taxi passengers who feel unsafe to not travel alone

Suggestion criticized by advocates for placing burden of safety on passengers, not taxi companies

Whitehorse’s new emergency room slated to open in early January

40,000-square-foot building will be more efficient, officials say

Judge finds Whitehorse man not guilty of raping teen in 2015 after second trial

Judge Raymond Wyant found Jackie James Kodwat not guilty of sexual assault.

Whitehorse’s sidewalks are a deathtrap

In the interest of safety and simplicity, the city should just plow the sidewalks

Police, coroner investigating suspicious death in Pelly Crossing

Investigators have ordered an autopsy, which will take place in Vancouver Dec. 18

Two Yukon projects shortlisted for the Arctic Inspiration Prize

Projects from Whitehorse, Carcross up for cash

Lower Post, B.C., man suing Yukon RCMP over assault allegation

Suit alleges man ended up with ‘ended up with bruising on his arms, biceps and chest’

Yukon needs a better plan for long-term care

The government can find solutions if it has the will. Does it have the will?

Hard travel over the Yukon’s winter trails

The overland trip to Dawson City today is a cakewalk compared to a century ago

Globalization infiltrates the Yukon’s recycling bins

You’re going to have to do a better job sorting your junk or else China won’t take it

Driving during the holidays

It’s hectic on the roads at Christmastime

Whitehorse council chambers needs new audio-visual equipment

‘More than 10 people’ watch city’s televised meetings

Most Read