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Nunavut Housing Shortage Felt By Many In Iglookik

10/04/2015 02:39 EDT | Updated 10/04/2016 05:12 EDT
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The town of Iqaluit, Nunavut Territory, Canada, about 200 miles (321 kms) south of the Arctic Circle is seen on Monday, Feb. 26, 2007. Iqaluit is the capital of Canada's newest provinces, Nunavut Territory, which was carved out of the Northwest Territories to become a semi-autonomous region in 1999. There are some 7,000 people in Iqaluit, most of whom are Inuit, nomadic hunters who have lived in the frozen climes of Canada, Alaska, Russia and Greenland for thousands of years. The Inuit are the first on earth to experience the impact of global warming and claim the United States is violating their human rights by being the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases. (AP Photo/Beth Duff-Brown)
Half of Nunavut lives in social housing and many of the units are overcrowded.

"I've seen as high as 22 people staying in a three-bedroom unit that was 1,200 square feet," said Lori Kimball, the president and CEO of the Nunavut Housing Corporation.

Right now, there are 2,313 households on the waiting list to get into social housing in the territory's 25 communities, though Kimball estimates the actual need is more than 3,000.

In Igloolik, Nunavut, two-thirds of the island's residents live in social housing while another 102 families are on the wait list. These are some of their stories.

'We haven't applied for a while now'

Pacome Qulaut, 54, lives with wife and seven kids in a three bedroom home. He said his family doesn't bother applying for social housing.

"There's no housing available and there are a lot of people on the waiting list," he said.

"A lot of the people are living with their parents now and they have family of their own."​

He said getting young adults into housing should be a priority.

'I'm getting tired of waiting'    

After retiring, 70 year old Theo Kangok couldn't afford the cost of running his house. 

He sold it and moved him and his wife into his daughter's home. The couple has been waiting over a year for social housing.

Tired of waiting, he built a cabin on the outskirts of town where they stay in the warmer months.

"It's not just me in this situation living in a cabin. I've seen others living in the same situation while on the waiting list," Kangok said in Inuktitut.

'Waiting for years'

Francis Piugattuq doesn't qualify for Government of Nunavut housing as a casual wildlife technician, so he rents a social housing unit.

"In a two bedroom unit we can have anywhere from eight to 11 people. And we have to basically make do anywhere. Rooms are full. Some sleep on the couch, and we have makeshift beds on the floor. And that's our reality up here," he said.

"For me to shun them away: 'Oh, this is my house, go find your own unit,' that would be really bad. They'd be on the street and that would be awful."

'I don't know what to do next'

For 21-year-old Neeve Nutarariaq, a mother of three, trying to find housing is awful.

She and her family were kicked out of her boyfriend's parent's place and her parents, who already had five people in two bedrooms, didn't have room for another family of five.

Nutarariaq said she was told to go live in a tent, and that's what she did.

She said she's been on the waiting list for five years.

'I'm just exhausted'

After her daughter-in-law was murdered, Celina Irngaut took in her grandchildren, adding to an already overcrowded house.

"I kept the children for a year until my son could get on his feet again. But by then, I was too exhausted and ended up at the health centre."

Today, Irngaut's two-bedroom home in Igloolik sleeps eight, including her three daughters who share a room with children of their own.

"I'm just exhausted having to make peace between my adult children."

'We're very crowded'

Mornings at Sidonie Ungalaq's house can be a little chaotic. She lives with a dozen people in her four-bedroom home, including her daughter and five boys.

"Sometimes I just want to be alone or I want my privacy and there's always people here," Ungalaq said.

This is part of a series examining social housing in one of Nunavut's communities.

PART ONE: Nunavut housing crisis: 'Dire straits' in Igloolik

PART TWO: Homeless in Igloolik: Family of 5 lives in a tent

PART THREE: Homeless in Igloolik: Family of 5 lives in a tent

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