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Picking up repair bills for Liard homes

Derek Neary
Northern News Services

Fort Liard (Nov 12/04) - The NWT Housing Corporation is setting aside $900,000 to deal with Fort Liard's public housing problems.

Several of the 20 units are plagued by mould and in a state of disrepair, a couple are so bad that they are uninhabitable. Work on those houses will be completed by November, 2005, according to Jeff Anderson, chief financial officer with the Housing Corporation.

"We don't want to do too much winter work if we can help it; the quality goes down and the cost goes up," Anderson said.

The Housing Corporation's commitment came at a public meeting held on Nov. 4. Approximately 30 people turned out and many of them had concerns, according to Mayor Dianne Gonet, who was present at the meeting. She acknowledged that housing complaints are among the most common she hears in Fort Liard.

Gonet said she is confident the government commitments will be acted upon.

"With (MLA) Kevin (Menicoche) bringing our concerns all the time to the ministers, things won't be forgotten. Once we establish a formal housing committee, these things can't be pushed aside any more," she said.

The Housing Corporation will assist in the creation of a new Fort Liard housing committee to oversee all units in the community. The committee will be offered the responsibility for mortgage payments and rental decisions, Anderson noted.

"By having that decision-making at the community level, that should help deal with the politics," he explained. "If the community is on board it's going to make things a lot easier."

The Housing Corporation has experienced some difficulty collecting outstanding rent and mortgage payments in Fort Liard, as it has in most Northern communities, Anderson acknowledged.

Money into program delivery

"It certainly limits our ability to help people in communities if they don't meet their obligations," he said. "What we do is roll that (rent and mortgage) money right back into our program delivery."

He said a few options have been added for those in arrears. Those who fail to follow any of the recommended steps will face foreclosure. "I think as long as people understand we're serious, I think it's going to help turn things around," he said.