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Home for the holidays
Pond Inlet man gets public housing unit after making joint application with homeless person

Peter Worden
Northern News Services
Published Monday, January 7, 2013

Two Mittimatalingmiut have at long last landed a two-unit apartment in Pond Inlet.

For months, Randy Atagootsiak asked community members on Facebook for lumber to build his own shack, but it wasn't a change in his Facebook status that got Atagootsiak a housing unit - it was a change in his application status with the local housing authority.

"He was on the waiting list, but he was a single applicant and there were no single units to be allocated - kind of a common problem that we have across our (public housing) portfolio," said Tim Brown with the Nunavut Housing Corporation.

Atagootsiak was able to get into a public housing unit because he found a roommate who was also without a home, and together they made a joint application, said Brown.

The NHC errs on the side of cost-effectiveness, said Brown, and even though the bulk of its demands are for one- and three-unit apartments, the best bang for its tight fiscal buck is to build mostly two-unit facilities. The two-bedroom apartment 641A is now in the name of Atagootsiak and Paul Kublu Mucpa, who some community members say they saw sleeping on the hotel porch last week. By applying together, the NHC's point-system bumped the two up to the top of the list.

"I was so glad that I have a house because we're not living in the streets or somewhere anymore," said Mucpa. "That was our early Christmas present."

Back on Facebook, the community rallied behind Atagootsiak and Mucpa whose apartment, aside from a fridge and stove, was empty. Brown says he hopes to see washers installed one day soon. The post had more than 100 "likes" and dozens of comments from community members happy to donate unused household items such as plates and utensils and congratulate the two new roommates.

"Me and my roommate have been doing well ever since we got housed," said Mucpa, who described the unit as nice and neat. "Things are going great. There's lots of people who visit and ask how we're doing."

While a perfect Christmas gift, Brown says the NHC's wait-lists cannot and do not change according to season. He says homelessness in the communities is a growing issue, and is more overt lately.

"For a long time it used to be about the 'hidden homeless' - folks who are sleeping on other people's couches and whatnot. You're getting more cases now of absolute homelessness increasing in the communities," he said.

Currently, none of Nunavut's communities have a homeless shelter or rooming home, although there was talk recently of putting up a shelter in Arviat.

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