Housing crisis fixes wait on YTG

The housing crisis is going to get worse before it gets better, says the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition. And it's not going to get better at all without the territorial government at the table, said anti-poverty housing task force member Patricia Bacon.

The housing crisis is going to get worse before it gets better, says the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition.

And it’s not going to get better at all without the territorial government at the table, said anti-poverty housing task force member Patricia Bacon.

The housing task force released its 24-page housing action plan, A Home for Everyone, on Monday.

It paints a bleak picture.

Transitional housing for women fleeing violence, and street-involved youth is “insufficient or non-existent,” says the report.

But there’s a solution.

Kaushee’s Place – which offers limited housing to victims of violence and often has a long waitlist – has had a new second-stage housing plan in the works for almost a decade.

Designed by local architect Jack Kobayashi, the 10-unit apartment building would be classy and utilitarian and would include an open-air room for children to play behind a two-metre fence.

“We’ve been working on this project since 2001,” said Kaushee’s executive director Barbara McInerney in a previous interview with the News.

With its plans in place, the second-stage housing team approached the Women’s Directorate, its minister Marian Horne, officials at Health and Social Services, the Yukon Housing Corporation, the city and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation to lobby for funding.

But it hasn’t been able to drum up any support.

The anti-poverty coalition report recommends building this second-stage housing immediately.

It also recommends building supportive housing for people struggling with addictions, mental health issues and disabilities, including FASD.

Currently, supportive housing options are “insufficient or nonexistent,” says the report.

Again, there is a solution.

The Northern City Housing Supportive Housing Coalition wants to build a 20-unit supportive housing project for Whitehorse’s homeless, hardcore alcoholics.

The coalition of nonprofits already has architectural plans drawn up for the facility. It’s found builders willing to do the job for a cut rate, and it has a plan to pay for it.

But that depends on government support.

In October, the Liberals and NDP tabled a motion in the legislature asking the government to support the coalition’s efforts and ensure the project is approved.

Five months later, Northern City is still waiting.

The anti-poverty coalition report recommends building Northern City’s supportive-housing facility immediately, so it’s operational by 2012.

There’s also an “insufficient” supply of social housing units, according to the report.

And there are not enough affordable places to rent.

“This is a crisis of large proportions,” said anti-poverty co-chair Bill Thomas.

With a vacancy rate of less than one per cent, rental rates have skyrocketed.

And in the Yukon there are no minimum rental standards, added task force member Charlotte Hrenchuk.

So apartments can be mouldy, leaking, rodent-filled, have unsafe wiring and still be on the market for upwards of $1,000 a month.

Waiting to pay for gas at Tags on her way to media briefing, Hrenchuk heard a woman in line in front of her talking about how unaffordable the housing market is in Whitehorse.

“Maybe I should just move away,” Hrenchuk overheard her say.

“We want to make Whitehorse a place people want to stay in, instead of them moving away because they can’t find an appropriate place to live,” said Hrenchuk.

In the fall, a select committee reviewed the Yukon’s aged landlord and tenant act and made a number of recommendations to improve the territory’s housing situation.

Since then, nothing has changed.

“If the government moved forward with these changes, it would do a lot to protect landlord and tenant rights,” said anti-poverty coalition member Christina Craig.

The anti-poverty coalition is calling on the community to help solve the problem.

“We mean what we say, when we say, ‘A home for everyone,’” said Thomas, referencing the report’s title.

And the not-in-my-backyard attitude has to go, he said.

“Everyone is a leader, not just YTG,” he said.

Bacon brought up the Rent Well program, which compensates landlords who rent to higher-risk tenants, as an example of what the community could do to help solve the problem.

Something has to change, she said.

Right now, as executive director of Blood Ties Four Directions, Bacon sees clients coming to the centre’s drop-in just to catch up on sleep after spending the night on the streets.

Although the anti-poverty coalition is reaching out to the community to help solve the housing crisis, the most important player remains the Yukon government.

“Housing is extremely expensive,” said Bacon.

“And it cannot happen without them at the table.”

The housing task force is meeting with Whitehorse Mayor Bev Buckway on March 7.

The task force also plans to meet with Premier Dennis Fentie, First Nation leaders and any interested community members.

We don’t want this report to be shelved, said anti-poverty coalition member Laurie MacFeeters.

“Two words – action now,” said Hrenchuk.

Contact Genesee Keevil at gkeevil@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Are they coming?

One of COVID-19’s big economic questions is whether it will prompt a… Continue reading

Yukon MP Larry Bagnell, along with Yukon health and education delegates, announce a new medical research initiative via a Zoom conference on Jan. 21. (Screen shot)
New medical research unit at Yukon University launched

The SPOR SUPPORT Unit will implement patient-first research practices

Yukon First Nation Education Directorate members Bill Bennett, community engagement coordinator and Mobile Therapeutic Unit team lead, left, and Katherine Alexander, director of policy and analytics, speak to the News about the Mobile Therapeutic Unit that will provide education and health support to students in the communities. (yfned.ca)
Mobile Therapeutic Unit will bring education, health support to Indigenous rural students

The mobile unit will begin travelling to communities in the coming weeks

Premier Sandy Silver, left, and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley, speak during a live stream in Whitehorse on January 20, about the new swish and gargle COVID-19 tests. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Swish and spit COVID-19 test now available in Yukon

Vaccination efforts continue in Whitehorse and smaller communities in the territory

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment in Faro photgraphed in 2016. Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old building currently accommodating officers. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Faro RCMP tagged for new detachment

Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old… Continue reading

In a Jan. 18 announcement, the Yukon government said the shingles vaccine is now being publicly funded for Yukoners between age 65 and 70, while the HPV vaccine program has been expanded to all Yukoners up to and including age 26. (1213rf.com)
Changes made to shingles, HPV vaccine programs

Pharmacists in the Yukon can now provide the shingles vaccine and the… Continue reading

Parking attendant Const. Ouellet puts a parking ticket on the windshield of a vehicle in downtown Whitehorse on Dec. 6, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is hoping to write of nearly $300,000 in outstanding fees, bylaw fines and court fees, $20,225 of which is attributed to parking fines issued to non-Yukon license plates. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City of Whitehorse could write off nearly $300,000

The City of Whitehorse could write off $294,345 in outstanding fees, bylaw… Continue reading

Grants available to address gender-based violence

Organizations could receive up to $200,000

In this illustration, artist-journalist Charles Fripp reveals the human side of tragedy on the Stikine trail to the Klondike in 1898. A man chases his partner around the tent with an axe, while a third man follows, attempting to intervene. (The Daily Graphic/July 27, 1898)
History Hunter: Charles Fripp — gold rush artist

The Alaskan coastal town of Wrangell was ill-equipped for the tide of… Continue reading

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. While Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis is now setting his sights on the upcoming territorial election, other members of council are still pondering their election plans for the coming year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Councillors undecided on election plans

Municipal vote set for Oct. 21

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decicions made by Whitehorse city council this week.

A file photo of grizzly bear along the highway outside Dawson City. Yukon conservation officers euthanized a grizzly bear Jan. 15 that was originally sighted near Braeburn. (Alistair Maitland/Yukon News file)
Male grizzly euthanized near Braeburn

Yukon conservation officers have euthanized a grizzly bear that was originally sighted… Continue reading

Most Read