Whitehorse Daily Star

Late release of housing funds ‘disgraceful’: NDP

The Yukon government will be using the last of its Northern Housing Trust funds for four new programs in the territory.

By Rhiannon Russell on April 22, 2015

The Yukon government will be using the last of its Northern Housing Trust funds for four new programs in the territory.

It announced today that the remaining $6.3 million – of an initial $50 million provided by the federal government for affordable housing in 2006 – will be spent on increasing municipalities’ rental supply, rental subsidies for families, grants to improve homes’ accessibility and grants for upgrades to rental units.

A fifth new program will also be funded with $1 million from the government’s Investment in Affordable Housing agreement with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.

It will see the Yukon Housing Corp. pay rent to the landlord, while the tenant pays the corporation 25 per cent of his or her income.

“These new initiatives will improve the overall quality and accessibility of rental housing in Yukon, while at the same time putting Yukoners to work,” Stacey Hassard, the minister responsible for the Yukon Housing Corp., said in statement.

“They address issues that face both rental developers and low- to moderate-income renters seeking accommodations in Yukon’s private rental market.

This will also provide an opportunity for potential landlords to upgrade illegal suites to approved legal suites, increasing availability to Yukon renters.”

The details of the new projects are:

• Municipal Matching Rental Construction Program ($1 million for 2015-16 projects, $2.5 million for 2016-17) – The government will partner with municipalities to offer one-time capital grant incentives for projects to help increase the supply of rental housing.

• Rental Quality Enhancement Grants ($400,000 for 2015-16, $400,000 for 2016-17) – Grants will be offered to landlords with existing approved rental units, or homeowners who want to create an approved secondary suite.

• Accessibility Enhancement Grants ($400,000 for 2015-16, $400,000 for 2016-17) – This program offers grants to homeowners and landlords for improving the accessibility of homes and rental units for people with physical disabilities.

• Rental Housing Allowances for Families ($1 million from 2015-19) – The rental subsidy program aims to help families with children better afford private market rental housing by offering direct rental housing allowances.

It will be targeted to families in core housing need (who spend more than 30 per cent of their income on shelter costs) and will be income-tested.

• Rent Supplement Enhancement ($1 million from 2015-19) – This program is for social housing-eligible clients and matches tenants with participating landlords.

The program currently exists in Whitehorse and this funding will extend it to all Yukon communities.

The Yukon Housing Corp. pays the median market rent directly to the landlord, and the tenant pays the corporation 25 per cent of their income.

NDP Housing critic Kate White said this morning the projects were “positive,” but doubted whether they address the need for affordable housing in the territory.

She criticized the Yukon Party government for taking nine years – since the funds were received in 2006 – to spend it.

“I think the fact that they held onto this money without any real direction or reason, especially when we went through the biggest crunch we had, was disgraceful.”

“I would even venture a guess that for many people, it still feels like it’s at a crisis point,” she said of current affordable housing needs.

White said she suspects the new unit quality enhancement grants for landlords and owners are preparation for the new Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, expected to come into effect this year.

“My main criticism of the fact that they’re using the Northern Housing Trust money here is that since they were elected in 2011, they talked about all the innovative ways they were going to make affordable housing available in the Yukon, starting with Lot 262, ending with last year’s fiasco of the 75 essentially subsidized units within the city of Whitehorse,” White said.

In 2012, the government put to tender Lot 262, a 4.2-hectare parcel of land at Mountainview Drive and Range Road, and included a requirement that the successful bidder build at least 30 affordable rental units.

Only two bids came in, and neither met the minimum requirements.

Last year, the government pulled the plug on a plan to fund three affordable housing projects in Whitehorse, after developers say they spent hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars on their proposals.

The territorial government received the Northern Housing Trust funds from Ottawa in 2006 for affordable housing.

After negotiations, $32.5 million was distributed to Yukon First Nations.

With its $17.5 million, the government has dedicated:

• $1.4 million to affordable housing in Carcross and Carmacks;

• $3 million to the Whitehorse Salvation Army shelter revamp;

• $4.5 million to Betty’s Haven, a second-stage housing complex in Whitehorse;

• $1.4 million to an energy incentive program for homeowners;

• $300,000 to Habitat for Humanity Yukon;

• $480,000 over two years for implementation of a Housing Action Plan; and

• $250,000 for a downtown planning process at Rogers Street and Fifth Avenue.

(The two latter projects are included in the 2015-16 budget.)

The five new programs are in development now and are expected to be application-ready by June, the government said in its news release.

Comments (20)

Up 4 Down 2

Moose on Apr 28, 2015 at 4:57 pm

O.Delov: Housing prices have come down yes but rental rates have barely....( I think $50.00 over the past year). "affordable rentals" are also garbage in this town. Compare what a $1000 will get you in most towns of this size with what you can get here.
Better yet, would you or your children live in one of these run down, moldy dumps? Yeah, I thought so. The Territorial Government probably went to the Landlords Association to run their plan by them first to make sure they won't lose a dime. The head of that association also just happens to be on the Yukon Party Executive. Odd that.

Up 12 Down 1

Groucho d'North on Apr 27, 2015 at 6:35 pm

I'd like to know how the money the various first nations received to improve housing was spent. Yukon government has accounted for what they had, there's still $32.5 million unaccounted for. It all came from the same pile of tax money.

Up 7 Down 6

Mark you only presume how people live on Apr 26, 2015 at 3:22 pm

Most out spoken people who do not understand the facts of life, or want to cause problems, or are just disrespectful of reality without knowing the facts would make this type of statement.

Up 6 Down 18

Mark on Apr 26, 2015 at 12:41 pm

@o delov, whatever that means, it's due to attitudes like yours that we suffer social issues in the territory. The northern housing trust money was " given" to the YP to assist people in need of affordable housing. Don't you think 8 years to spend the money was irresponsible? Are you in a social position where you don't see ( or dont want to see) the poverty and challenges faced by many yukon residents? Shame on you for putting down people who try and raise awareness on this issue, you must live a sheltered life. And, don't worry, the YP is doing a great job at putting itself down.

Up 49 Down 11

O. Delov on Apr 25, 2015 at 3:43 pm

Grow up Kate White, and quit acting like a spoiled child always whining and never being happy with anything that anyone else does.
Do you really think you and the NDP are perfect and the only ones that can do anything right? I suggest you and the Liberals get off your high horses, quit being so arrogant and negative towards everything that our current government is doing, and make some positive contributions towards improving matters in the Yukon, like you are getting paid the big bucks to do! Or perhaps that’s the only way you think you can make yourselves look good for the election, is with put-downs of the party in power.
I am so tired of listening to everyone whine and cry about how to spend (or blow away) these Northern Housing Trust funds and the poor people who can’t find affordable housing, when there are numerous housing units sitting empty in our capital city. It is now a “buyers market” in Whitehorse, and many rental rates have dropped or are as negotiable as they can be with all the increases in utilities, property taxes, and other fees that our wonderful City Council is continuously handing out to us residents.
Well now it’s actually a relief that the NHT funds will finally be gone, and if no other positive result comes from it, at least that should be the end of this woeful story. PLEASE let’s move on to actually accomplishing things and quit with all the negativism already.
That goes for the media reporting as well - can’t you reporters get some uplifting positive stories, and quit focusing on all this put-down stuff you use to get readers attention. Considering some of the material written in our local papers, they should be renamed the “Yukon Enquirer “ .

Up 3 Down 1

Thanks for the encouragement lost on Apr 25, 2015 at 6:45 am

Thanks for the encouragement lost.

Up 5 Down 12

Oh my aching body on Apr 24, 2015 at 5:31 pm

The Government could put some money to work by adding stair climbers like you see advertised on TV. Some seniors move to ranch style houses to avoid the formidable barrier that even small staircases present for some. For 3 large worth of equipment many would stay in the accommodation they now enjoy save sets of stairs. A lot of solutions do not need to be mega projects in order to be viable.
Wilf, I hope you get a job with the Yukon Party but if they don't get elected your out of luck. Some of these no mind sycophants come from everyday jobs to savoir such entitlements as Executive Assistant and such. Good luck.

Up 44 Down 10

Wilf Carter Fed up Yukon on Apr 24, 2015 at 3:23 pm

Some of your comments are right such as Justice, Ec Dev and PSC. But YHC staff do the best possible job with program money based on the most needy people. They also work to spend the funds in the Yukon.
NDP just like to criticize YTG employees that are competent but say nothing about the incompetent ones which they know who they are.
Maybe because the incompetent ones support the NDP?

Up 13 Down 5

WOW I worked on the Housing KL Accord under Martin WC on Apr 24, 2015 at 3:17 pm

The problem was it was to much front ended loaded meaning the cost to deliver were two high plus it was not targeted and it was very subject to abuse.
Second the conservatives were confronted with a major recession with 100,000 thousands of job lay offs in Canada.
So is was the choice at the time spend money oh housing or deal with the recession.
I was involved with the northern housing trust KL accord, nation First Nation housing program, social housing cooperative programs on and on.
If you want details I can supply them.
I supported the KL accord but not the structure because it would not provide the most effective results.
The real issue is the public does not understand government programs and how they work and that is no one's fault.
It would be nice if more information was put out by the media on subjects like this.
By the Conservative Government providing YTG and First Nations to manage the funds it cut administration cost.
For example if the Feds managed the Northern Housing Trust that would have meant staff from Federal Government added to the cost and less into the program.
Under the KL accord the Yukon would get $68 million dollars and the Feds would front end load with administration.
Another example, there was $2.5 million dollars for a special First Nation Housing project to build five houses in the Yukon.
$1.4 million went into the housing and $1.1 went into administration. Does that make good investment sense of public money?

Up 13 Down 5

Hmmm on Apr 24, 2015 at 9:07 am

Someone has to get paid to run the program.
Tell Yukoner's Hmmm what you know about public program management and what your motives are by making the public look like YHC do not know what they are doing!
YTC is doing a good job in keeping down program and administrative/implementation cost so more funds go into the program itself.
Do you understand that Hmmm?
Let me see Hmmm, I think your comments are more political than anything else and are like the NDP who will call down Yukon Government employees that are doing their job.

Up 12 Down 5

Lost in the Yukon you are so angry on Apr 24, 2015 at 8:12 am

Why are you so angry, lost in the woods? Is it that I called you on your statements?
Is it that you can't except someone debating your comments that do not agree with you? You need to stop and think what I really know.
There is only one premier but I don't think you understand politics or what a premier is. Is that correct?
I can suggest you take some time in the wilderness to rethink your comments so they make common sense.
Just trying to give you some advice.
By the way I am not looking for a job but for just your information I will be making steps to clean up some very bad actions in the administration of government against their employees by management YEU.

Up 8 Down 13

Wow on Apr 23, 2015 at 9:25 pm

@WC ..get your facts straight. In 2005, prime minister Martin (liberal) committed 5 billion dollars over ten years to fund education and social programs for aboriginals. In the same year, the newly elected prime minister Harper ( conservative) scraped the fund. In 2006 Yukon government received 50 million dollars from the federal government (of the 300 million dollar national Northern Housing Trust fund) to help address affordable housing in Yukon. Following a series of negotiations, the 50 million was allocated at 32.5 to the 14 Yukon First Nations through funding agreements and the remaining 17.5 was placed in Yukon Government (conservative) trust fund. The First Nations spent and reported on their allocation in the same year, or soon thereafter, while the YP sat on the fund for over 8 years while many Yukon residents suffered housing woes. Now, in pre-election mode, the Yukon Party is announcing a buffet of underfunded and poorly developed programs to enable them to say "look at what we've done" while really having done very little.

Up 10 Down 10

fed up Yukoner on Apr 23, 2015 at 6:56 pm

I would like to see how the 32.5 million was spent, handing it out and calling it housing don't make it so. Beings I'm so fed up (no pun intended) with this government I can't help but think most of these funds will go to Yukon Housing employees and contracts to buddies. How the heck can there not be a Housing Action Plan or a downtown planning process with all the building that has gone on, willy nilly I guess. What do all those govvies in the trough do? These $$ will be frittered away like a lot of other government $$. I wonder how they will manage to make these $$ look like its been in the bank this whole time, I think it just got paid back in the last transfer payment, that's how much confidence I have in these guys.

Up 8 Down 3

Yukoner there has been land released on Apr 23, 2015 at 6:22 pm

We have a things called land planning that permitted 20 and then 10 acre parcels available. If you don't understand my statements on Northern Housing Trust and housing in general or the political world than it's your problem.
There is lots of land all over the Yukon, why don't you look.
Teslin has a subdivision and lots for sale contact them.

Up 14 Down 27

Yukoner on Apr 23, 2015 at 4:33 pm

@Yukon Government/First Nations Northern Housing Trust WC

If you were trying to answer any one of my 3 questions I would like to point out that not one was answered.

Also when you speak of a housing strategy, we should really be looking at the 'why and how' it is possible for a territory of this size to have land shortage, and the red tape and hoops one must jump through to buy an unimproved parcel of land, not to mentioned a serviced lot. Been there done that. Still awaiting answers to any one of my 3 questions posted at 11:19 am.
Thank you.

Up 60 Down 9

Lost in the Yukon on Apr 23, 2015 at 2:20 pm

Show of hands ... is Wilf Carter really the Premier? or is Wilf Carter looking for a job?

Up 13 Down 9

Yukon Government/First Nations Northern Housing Trust WC on Apr 23, 2015 at 1:27 pm

I don't speak for anyone but I am to trying to answer the Yukoners questions and give an example the facts.
The Federal Government set up housing programs and invested $50 million into the Yukon for housing.
Affordable housing is defined by the type of program created for different levels and purposes of need.
When the Northern Housing trust came out in 2006, First Nations were high priority because of the major housing cut backs to their housing program under the former liberal government to balance the books and create a surplus.
Some one had to pay the cost of balancing the books and creating the surpluses.
It is a matter of choice. The liberals took $21 billion out of this type of program spending across Canada.
The Conservative Government put back in billions and are still spending money, just look on TV today.
Having said that, the First Nations and the Yukon Government were given full control of the $50 million so it would give the First Nations and Yukon Government the choice on how to best invest the funds and cut the $4 million dollars the Federal Government would have to spend on managing the fund.
The Yukon Government agreed to the situation at the time so the amounts were determined and agreed to.
From my experience, you do not invest this money into projects when the housing market is going at full speed like from 2007 until 2014. It would be wasted and the cost benefit would be very low.
Investing when the market slow is the only way that is cost effective with housing cost dropping.
If the Mayor of Whitehorse, Liberals and NDP got their way, they would be spending the money in the middle of a housing market that is 35% over inflated in the City of Whitehorse. It comes down to the proper time to invest and that is when costs are lower.
The other issue was the pace of growth and land development created a bottle neck for housing in COW so there was no way to properly deal with issues in a speedy way because it was changing so fast.
I have spent years at this and one thing we need is a national housing strategy and there are existing funds in the system to fund some of it.
The Yukon Housing has been doing a good job for years and keeps the administration and program cost very low compared to some other areas in the Government like Ec Dev, Justice, PSC.

Up 37 Down 22

Yukoner on Apr 23, 2015 at 11:19 am

Ok, so if I read this right, out of the 50 million dollars that was transferred from the feds to the territory the FN's got 32.5 million (or 65%) of the funds.

We can see a nice division of funds for the remaining 17.5 million, and for what the funds will be used, aside for the two latter projects of 2015-16.
The 65% or 32.5 million dollars, just says "distributed to Yukon First Nations".

My first question is why?
My second question is where is the chart showing what this money will be used for? I'ts my tax dollars I have a right to know.
My third and final question: Is this 32.5 million dollars on top of what the government shells out every year to each First Nations in this territory?

Please advise. Thank you.

Up 18 Down 29

Hmmm on Apr 23, 2015 at 8:07 am

Anyone else find it strange the YHC budgets $480,000 to implement the housing action plan they say they've been working on for over two years? A plan which will tell us what most Yukon residents already know? What a waste of money. And, you gotta like those pre election programs, who developed those, who do they help and where did the needs analysis come from?

Up 48 Down 26

Wilf Carter Good Job Minister Hassard on Apr 22, 2015 at 7:04 pm

The NDP could not bring forth one good idea for affordable housing in the Yukon and don't understand affordable housing and what it means.
As a person who has many years in housing and sat at the table on the Northern Housing Trust Fund, this is great news.
Thanks to Yukon Housing staff for doing a great job.
The NDP are out of words on this plan because they have stated nothing on affordable housing programs.
Affordable housing is about a targeted needs program which the Yukon Party government has nailed.
NDP your housing debate is dead in the water like a lot of your other misunderstood government programs.
The Yukon Party is doing their job - more than I can say for the NDP's.
Look at all the investment in housing $32.5 million in First Nations Housing that is incredible and good work by the Yukon and Federal Governments.
Let's move on to the creating a real Yukon economy so we can do more for our people.

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