Stern, Pamela R. (2005) Wage labor, housing policy, and the nucleation of Inuit households, Arctic Anthropology 42 (2): 66-81.

Keywords: history of housing policyhomeownershipNorthwest Territories Housing Corporationsocial housingUlukhaktok (Holman)

Stern conducted research in Ulukhaktok (Holman) in 1999 and 2000. In the article she analyzes northern social housing policy as it relates to employment and household composition. Stern critiques assumptions in housing policy that Inuit nuclear family and kinship models are similar to Euro-Canadian models.

In the 1970s and early 80s, when housing was in short supply, houses were allocated to nuclear families. Families not considered a nuclear unit (i.e. unmarried women with kids) had to live with extended kin. As more housing became available in the 1980s, non-nuclear groups and individuals became eligible for housing. State welfare benefits also became available to more Inuit. The Northwest Territories Housing Corporation (NWTHC), established in 1973, created the Housing Assistance Program (HAP) in the mid-1980s. Qualified households received a grant that covered construction and material costs to build a single family house under the conditions that the owners lived in the house for five years and paid utilities, heating oil, maintenance costs, and an annual land use fee (p. 76).  Households with a full time wage earner qualified for the program. In 1993, the Access program replaced HAP. Access was a home mortgage program funded by banks and the Housing Corporation. The NWTHC adjusted mortgage payments for families based income changes.

Stern argues that the sliding scale rent policy does not recognize economic obligations to family members living in other households. Stern suggests that self-governance arrangement should allow Inuit to change housing policies to be more culturally appropriate.