In their own words: the Yukon Party's defense of housing inaction
Despite repeated opportunities for action, including cancelled affordable housing projects and a multi-million dollar federal fund that lay unspent until this year’s budget, the Yukon Party government remains unwilling to recognize the housing challenges Yukon faces in 2015.
“The Yukon Party government has a responsibility to ensure that housing remains affordable and accessible,” said Yukon NDP housing critic Kate White. “This government has been in power for over a decade – yet the Yukon Party has made almost no progress in dealing with Yukon’s affordable housing crisis.
Here are some of the positions that Stacey Hassard, the Yukon Party government’s Minister responsible for the Yukon Housing Corporation, has taken in the past week:
In my humble opinion, it is not. (In response to a question on whether Hassard thinks access to housing is a human right, 21 May)
The right to housing is enshrined in major international agreements signed by Canada such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights because of the fundamental role it plays in eliminating poverty. Recently, the municipality of Medicine Hat, Alberta took action to eliminate homelessness based on its desire to improve their collective quality of life.
I’m not saying that everything here is the best way to go forward or it’s not the worst way to go forward, but we were given certain parameters to work in. (Hassard rebuffs criticism of the Rental Quality Enhancement Grant, 21 May)
The intended benefits of the Yukon Housing Corporation’s Rental Quality Enhancement Grant could drive up rent and increase rental housing turnover by allowing landlords to make publicly subsidized improvements to a rental property then increase the rent. What’s more, the grant-based nature of the program puts it at odds with the low-interest Home Repair Loan offered to homeowners, who must repay the government for the funds. Landlords and homeowners should be on a level playing field when it comes to financial support.
I believe that we have done as much as we could with the funding that we had. (Hassard defends the Yukon Party government’s housing efforts, 21 May)
The Yukon Party government has come under pressure from the Official Opposition and community groups for failing, until this year, to spend the remainder of the Northern Housing Trust funds allocated to Yukon in 2006. Mothballed affordable housing projects like Lot 262 and 75 Whitehorse units that there announced last year – and then cancelled – point to a distinct lack of direction from a Yukon Party government that seems unwilling to seriously tackle homelessness and Yukon’s affordable housing crisis.
“Yukoners deserve a government that doesn’t make excuses. Yukoners want a plan to eradicate homelessness, and a handful of grants and loans for property owners and landlords won’t get the job done,” added White. “Targeted action to offer safe, warm, dry and affordable housing to vulnerable Yukoners is the most important step we can take to eliminate poverty in our territory.”
For more information, please contact:
Mike Fancie, Yukon NDP Official Opposition
867-689-4866 or mike.fancie [at] yla.gov.yk.ca
Photo: katsrcool / flickr. Used under a Creative Commons BY 2.0 licence.