Paulie Chinna: Renewal Strategy Wrap-Up
March 28, 2023
Mr. Speaker, I want to share with you some of the exciting things happening at Housing Northwest Territories that are a direct result of our renewal strategy.
Since the initiation of the strategy, Housing NWT has worked with the Council of Leaders to revise and modernize its mandate and use that mandate to guide the review of our policies and programs. We are now in the process of implementing the changes coming from that review.
Changes include the improvement to how Housing NWT works with Local Housing Organizations, our critical partners in the delivery of the public housing program. We have also improved our collaboration with Indigenous governments, with agreements signed with the Tłı̨chǫ Government, Sahtu Secretariat Incorporated, and Délı̨nę Got’ınę Government. More agreements are expected. Additionally, we are putting in place a lasting mechanism for engaging with Indigenous governments with a Forum that will be co-chaired by Housing NWT and an Indigenous government. The Terms of Reference are being finalized, and we do anticipate that the first Indigenous government Co-Chair for this forum will be the Yellowknives Dene First Nation.
Mr. Speaker, Housing NWT is recognizing the importance of supporting each Indigenous government as they develop and implement their self government agreements and determine housing priorities in their communities.
It is worth noting that Housing NWT is doing all of this while managing a public housing expansion that was unprecedented in recent decades.
Mr. Speaker, along with these accomplishments, I am proud to bring forward a number of new initiatives and improvements underway.
As my colleagues are aware, public housing applicants who have met the eligibility criteria undergo prioritization using a point rating system. An applicant is given a number of points for certain needs and that score helps to prioritize their ranking to access available public housing in their community. As part of Housing NWT’s Renewal Strategy, the points system was updated and modernized so that it lines up with the Housing NWT mandate and government priorities. This means that the point rating system now includes points for those who are experiencing chronic homelessness, or individuals who need housing because they are living in an environment involving family violence. The new points system is being rolled out on April 1.
Mr. Speaker, to ensure our tenant’s success, we have recently worked with the Literacy Council to plain language the tenancy agreement as well as develop a tenant’s handbook that outlines the rights and responsibilities of both the landlord and the tenant. We have also introduced a tenant success plan, which outlines how Local Housing Organizations should work with clients so that they are supported and given a chance at success.
Mr. Speaker, another small but new initiative is centred around access to credit. For some of our clients their monthly rent is the only regular payment that they make and the only opportunity they have to build a good credit rating. We are happy to announce a Credit Rating Pilot Program in two communities: Fort Resolution and Inuvik. Public housing tenants will have the opportunity to opt into the program, which will only report positive credit ratings.
Mr. Speaker, for our homeowners, along with the increase in thresholds for most programs, a focus on seniors, and eliminating co-pays for emergency repairs, we are introducing a pilot program in two communities that will allow for us to work with our local housing organization in communities where there is no local supplier of construction materials.
The Local Housing Organizations will provide access to materials, such as heating and plumbing parts, things that we know homeowners need but have a hard time getting in a timely manner in remote communities.
Mr. Speaker, these are just some of the current highlights, with much more exciting news expected in the coming weeks, including our new Energy Management Strategy and Blueprint.
Mr. Speaker, the housing needs in this territory are so great that sometimes it can seem that the challenges are insurmountable. But what I have seen in my time as Minister is a willingness to work together to meet those challenges and the courage to look with a critical eye at whether our efforts are being effective. No one government, no one organization, and no single solution alone will allow us to succeed. We need to work together to address the territory’s housing crisis.
Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.