Buchanan Enid Jane (1979) Arctic Housing: Problems and Prospects, unpublished MA thesis, School of Community and Regional Planning, University of British Columbia.
Keywords: architecture and design, Canadian federal government, history of housing policy, Iqaluit (Frobisher Bay), Northwest Territories Housing Corporation, social housing
Buchanan examined the development of housing programs and policy in northern Canada from the 1950s to 1979 and critiqued current housing infrastructure. She used data from Frobisher Bay’s (Iqaluit) General Development Plan and other policy documents to provide an overview of the evolution of government housing programs in the Northwest Territories (NWT).
Twelve different types of housing structures were built in Frobisher Bay from the 1950s to 1977. The average Frobisher Bay Housing Association (FBHA) house had 700 square feet and an average occupancy of 4.8 persons. Government staffed housing averaged 780 square feet and 2.5 persons (p. 55). The government employee houses were often in better condition than public housing.
Approximately 40% of Arctic residents were paying more for housing than southern Canadians (p. 67). In 1977, the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation (NWTHC) established the Rent and Income Review Committee. This committee determined a basic living allowance that encompassed what a family was expected to spend on food, clothes, and personal care (p. 73). This allowance was deducted from a family’s gross income and then rent was assessed at 25% of the remaining balance.
Buchanan reviewed eight housing programs that offered services such as rental housing, mortgage assistance, loans, rehabilitation, and homeownership. She claimed only public housing programs delivered a large number of affordable housing and tried to keep up with housing demands (p. 80). These programs, however, failed to achieve their construction targets with the expanding population. She recommended co-operative and non-profit housing models as alternative programs. She also suggested that the harsh climate and terrain, mixed northern economies, high provision and housing costs, lack of resources for local administrations, Inuit spatial arrangements, and dual housing standards be considered when creating new housing programs and policies (p. 99-100).