There’s still no word on how the government intends to spend nearly $18 million in affordable housing money that it’s hoarded for several years.
It’s been more than a month since Jim Kenyon made the bombshell disclosure this money has gone unspent. Kenyon spilled the beans shortly after he was sacked as housing minister by then-premier Dennis Fentie.
At the time, Kenyon faulted Fentie for sitting on the funds to help bolster the territory’s savings account.
On Saturday, Premier Darrell Pasloski will have been in power for one week. He has yet to announce any plans to spend the unused funds, despite calls from both opposition parties to move quickly to help address Whitehorse’s acute housing shortage.
Instead, on Wednesday, Steve Nordick, who picked up Kenyon’s cabinet portfolios, issued a release that talks up spending commitments made three years ago.
“Housing is critical to the health of our communities,” said Nordick, who added the housing corporation is “working to maximize time-sensitive funding” provided by Ottawa.
The release said nothing about the unspent $17.5 million provided since 2008 under the Northern Housing Trust. With interest, that money’s now worth $18 million, Kenyon has said.
Instead, Nordick noted how Canada provided $51 million in 2009 for the corporation to build social housing. To date, the corporation has built several new affordable housing projects and upgraded more than 300 existing units, said Nordick.
There’s no shortage of housing projects that the unused money could help build.
Kenyon has proposed using it to add another 18 units to Options for Independence, a group that supports Yukoners with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.
The Northern City Affordable Housing Coalition wants to build a 20-unit facility to help Yukon’s homeless, hardcore alcoholics.
A territorially sponsored report released this spring by Dr. Bruce Beaton and Chief James Allan calls on the government to build a downtown homeless shelter with an attached detoxification unit.
Others have called for the construction of a downtown youth shelter.