City of Iqaluit support to help Uquutaq get federal money for housing, shelter

City’s support comes with commitment to fast-track permits

Uquutaq Society treasurer Kathleen Gomes presents to Iqaluit city council Tuesday evening. Her society needs city support for an application to build transitional housing and a shelter in the city. (Photo by David Venn)

By David Venn
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

A non-profit society that operates transitional housing and shelters in Iqaluit will receive a letter of support from the city for its application to get federal money for two new housing projects.

Uquutaq Society is applying to the Rapid Housing Initiative for money to construct a 24-room transitional housing building where Building 803 is currently located, and a low-barrier shelter on the site of the old country food store.

Low-barrier shelters and programming allow people to access services if they are inebriated.

The society’s treasurer, Kathleen Gomes, presented a letter to council Tuesday in a bid to receive its support.

“We trust the city is aware of the real need for the expansion of the current low-barrier emergency shelter and a low-barrier transition program,” Gomes said.

The federal program has tight deadlines and requires that buildings in the North be erected within 24 months of funding approval.

The society needed the city’s support and a commitment to fast-track permits as part of its application process. The application is due mid-March.

A few city councillors praised the society for the work it has done, and all voted in favour of supporting the projects.

Building 803 in Lower Iqaluit was formerly a storage building for the city. The society plans to turn it into rooms mainly for young people who are transitioning out of the shelter system.

Each room will have its own bathroom and there will be a shared kitchen and living room in the building.

The project is expected to cost about $20 million.

The low-barrier shelter will offer 40 beds and 14 transitional units. It will also have a day program for people to stay warm and a commercial kitchen, Gomes said.

She said the society is on track to get its application out to the federal government on time.

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