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March 25 2013

Initial Results of Housing Progress Report Released

Members of the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition’s Housing Task Force have completed their annual review of progress made on recommendations from A Home for Everyone: A Housing Action Plan for Whitehorse released in 2011.

“On the eve of the Northern Housing Conference: “Housing Outside the Box”, we thought it was important to remind people of the vast housing needs in every area of the housing continuum,” says Charlotte Hrenchuk, YAPC Co-chair. “We believe the government can help ease the housing crisis by having a plan that is evidence based and includes targets. We don’t have that now which means progress is hard to measure. What we do know is that people remain under and inadequately housed.”

Here are some of the highlights for the last year:

Momentum seems to be building to address the housing crisis:

  • The City of Whitehorse has identified attainable housing as one of its top 5 priorities for its strategic plan
  • In February, Mayor and Council took a leadership role in supporting the call for a National Housing Strategy
  • The Yukon Housing Corporation has a new 5 year strategic plan with an expanded mandate
  • Kwanlin Dun First Nation continues its work on land and housing policies
  • Habitat for Humanity signed a landmark agreement with Champagne Aishihik to build a triplex at the Takhini River Subdivision
  • CYFN has become the community entity which will administer localederal Homelessness Partnering Strategy funds
  • New Whitehorse Yukon Safe Housing Society established
  • Interest is building to develop a 10 year plan to end homelessness in Whitehorse
  • The federal government has announced a focus on “Housing First” for Homelessness Partnering Strategy funds
  • Six transitional beds added to stock (Blood Ties Four Directions & Takhini Haven)

On the ground, however, the demand for housing in Whitehorse continues to outstrip supply. Housing projects announced in the Yukon Government’s budget speech last week are mostly re-announcements.

  • The rental vacancy rate sits at 1.5%
  • The average price of a single family dwelling was $437,100 in December 2012
  • Grey Mountain Housing has 30 families and 7 individuals on their waiting list – 70% are reporting homelessness
  • Whitehorse Housing has 91 individuals on their waiting list – 20% of the individuals reported homelessness
  • The Yukon Government has not presented a cohesive plan that responds to the many needs across the housing continuum; action remains ad hoc
  • MP Ryan Leef voted against Bill C-400, which would have seen a national housing strategy developed
  • Supportive housing targeted for people exiting correctional facilities, drug and alcohol treatment, mental health facilities or youth care facilities does not meet need
  • Supportive housing targeted for street involved youth, people with mental health issues or active addictions does not meet need

Low income and vulnerable Whitehorse residents continue to suffer the impact of inadequate, inaccessible, unaffordable and insecure housing.

“The Housing Conference is a step in the right direction,” says Hrenchuk. “We’ll be pressing for action so we can see real progress on the ground.”

The complete progress report for March 2012 to March 2013 will be released at the end of April and will reflect progress made in increasing and improving housing options across the housing continuum in Whitehorse.