Esther Armstrong, Housing Navigator for Victoria Faulkner Womenճ Centre, says staying on the social housing wait list can be as difficult for some as getting on it. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Yukon’s housing wait list increase shows need for affordable housing, advocates say

Housing navigators say the increased number paints a more accurate picture of the need in Whitehorse

The number of people on the Yukon’s social housing wait list has more than doubled this year compared to last, but that doesn’t mean there was a sudden increase in demand for affordable housing, several Whitehorse housing navigators say.

Instead, those numbers are just painting a more accurate picture of how many people are actually in need of affordable housing.

Responding to a question in the Legislative assembly, Pauline Frost, the minister responsible for the Yukon Housing Corporation, said last week that as of Oct. 25 there were 168 people on the social housing waiting list in Whitehorse and 24 in the communities for a total of 192.

That’s compared to 105 at the end of July last year.

Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition’s housing navigator Meg Grudeski said the Oct. 25 number wasn’t surprising.

“It is alarming that we have that many people on a list, but I don’t think those numbers are outside what the reality of people trying to find affordable housing is,” she said.

“I think the wait list numbers are probably going to go up because we are trying to make sure that (Yukon Housing has) the most up to date and accurate reflection of people who would benefit from rent-geared-to-income housing.”

Blood Ties Four Directions’ Dana Hart agreed, saying that at a recent meeting, Yukon Housing officials said there has been an influx of “really thorough applications” since organizations have hired housing navigators to assist people with the application process.

But that doesn’t mean getting on the list still isn’t a challenge.

“You need to have two pieces of ID, have done your taxes for last year and have lived in the Yukon for a year to be eligible, and those can be barriers for folks,” Victoria Faulkner Women’s Centre’s Esther Armstrong said.

Getting on the list isn’t the end of the story either. In order to stay on the list, people have to call Yukon Housing every month to let the corporation know they’re still interested.

“Calling every month can be hard from some folks, especially if they’re experiencing homelessness at the time and struggling to get even their basic needs met, making that monthly call can be difficult,” Armstrong said.

Putting in that monthly call can be even more challenging for people with cognitive disabilities, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Society Yukon’s executive director Wenda Bradley said.

“For our folks specifically, if you’re looking at a disability that … affects your memory, it affects your ability to plan, different things like that,” she said. “If you have to remember all these steps to maintain your housing or just your name on a list, it becomes very difficult — ‘When did I last do that?’ You can’t remember when you last did it. Was it last week or two weeks ago or four weeks ago? And you don’t have an address if you’re homeless, how can you be notified, and are you notified, that you haven’t done this? All these things come into play.”

Because housing is assigned by urgency, not who comes first — victims of violence and people with disabilities, for example, get priority — people on the list also don’t know how long they may be waiting.

“If you do get information that you’re at the top of the list, that can change day-to-day based on the needs of other people coming in, so I think it’s difficult to manage people’s anticipation or expectations,” Grudeski said. “That’s not to say that’s the fault of Yukon Housing Corporation, it’s good that they’re trying to triage … but it’s definitely a difficult thing if people hear that they’re near the top of the list, there’s an expectation that they’re going to be housed, and when that changes, they can feel (frustrated).”

The best way to relieve the pressure on system, the housing navigators all said, is to make more affordable housing available.

“(There are) not enough units in general, whether we’re talking about subsidized housing or private rental markets,” Armstrong said. “I think sometimes the system’s pieces can get people caught, but at the end of the day, I think we just need more housing and a better income strategy and more supports with everything that comes along with that.”

Contact Jackie Hong at jackie.hong@yukon-news.com

affordable housingWhitehorseYukon Hospital Corporation

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