Collings, Peter F. (2005) Housing policy, aging, and life course construction in a Canadian Inuit community, Arctic Anthropology 42(2): 50-65

Keywords: history of housing policyhomeownershipHomeownership Assistance Program (HAP), Northwest Territories Housing CorporationUlukhaktok (Holman)

Collings examines the history of public and private programs in the Canadian Arctic since the 1960s (p. 50). Collings made several research trips between 1992-2004 to Ulukhaktok, arguing that young adults do not benefit from the generous social housing policies that were available to their parents. Instead, young Inuit are pressured into entering the private housing market.

Collings recounts the history of Inuit housing policy starting in the 1960s. The Eskimo Rental Housing Program offered Inuit rental housing supplied by the government. Though Inuit could rent “Matchboxes” or “512” houses, Inuit still found housing to be unaffordable (p. 53). In 1972, the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation (NTHC) was created to manage public housing. The NTHC developed incentive programs to encourage homeownership, and they created a sliding rent scale between 16-25% of total household income. These programs included the Homeownership Assistance Program (HAP), Access, and the Down Payment Assistance Program (DAP).

Collings criticizes the housing policies implemented by the NTHC, asserting that the NTHC ignored the economic and cultural contexts when creating housing programs. In particular, it assumed potential for a private housing market to exist in northern communities (p. 56). He also reports that homeownership serves two functions: to encourage a sense of pride and self-reliance in homeowners, and housing both an investment and mechanism for generating wealth (p. 61). He suggests that communities need to be involved in the development and implementation of housing programs as well as to seek alternative energy sources to help with electrical costs.