Mr. Speaker, as a part of the GNWT's commitment to address homelessness in the territory, Housing NWT offers several client-centered programs. Today I would like to highlight some of these programs as well as the investments we have made, since the beginning of the 19th Legislative Assembly, to support residents experiencing homelessness and those at risk of becoming homeless.
Mr. Speaker, the Transitional Rent Supplementary Program was extended, and the funding was increased with a seamless application process to reduce barriers. In April 2021, this program evolved and is now called the Canada-NWT Housing Benefit Program, with half funded by the GNWT and the other half by the Government of Canada. In 2021, over 248 applicants accessed the program and is currently accepting applications with no waitlist.
Mr. Speaker, the Homelessness Assistance Fund is a one-time funded program to applicants up to a maximum of $3,000. This program is flexible and is available to assist in different types of ways to include utility arrears, private market rental arrears, damage deposits, first month's rent, or travel assistance to a community in which individuals are guaranteed housing. Since this program was first offered in 2009, Housing NWT has supported 746 individuals and families to remain in their homes. To date in this fiscal year, Housing NWT has approved 56 successful applicants supporting single adults, couples, and families.
Another program that supports people experiencing homelessness is the Shelter Enhancement Fund. It provides northern communities with funding to repair and improve existing shelters, supporting building upgrades and equipment purchases. Since 2017, Housing NWT has provided up to $750,000 to non-governmental organizations for emergency plumbing repairs, upgrades to electrical systems, security systems, fire alarms, and new flooring and roofs.
Mr. Speaker, it is only through this kind of partnership and the approach that the NWT will be successfully addressing the territory's housing concerns. The Small Community Homelessness Assistance Fund is another good example of partnership. It combines GNWT and community resources to develop innovative supports that help communities address homelessness in ways that make sense to them.
In the past four years, Housing NWT provided over $150,000 in funding to Indigenous governments and community partners. The Small Community Assistance Fund has supported several community projects including community engagements to reduce homelessness, the introduction of various community food programs, clothing and furniture banks, rent supplements, and vouchers for various essential goods and supplies.
Mr. Speaker, another program centered around partnership is the Northern Pathways to Housing program, targeting single adults experiencing homelessness. It provides clients with access to permanent supportive housing, rental assistance, and case management to maintain their housing. The purpose of this program is to move people out of homelessness and into a safe place to live while working with them one-on-one, living independently, maintaining their own home, and to address the issues that lead to their current situation. Northern Pathways is now operating in the communities of
- Behchoko, in partnership with the Friendship Centre;
- Fort Simpson, in partnership with the Liidlii Kue First Nation;
- In Aklavik, in partnership with the Aklavik Indian Band; and
- In Fort Good Hope, with the Kasho Got'ine Housing Society.
Northern Pathways to Housing works with partners to provide wraparound supports to stabilize our housing clients.
Mr. Speaker, Housing NWT supports seven emergency shelters throughout the Northwest Territories. We funded emergency overnight shelters in Yellowknife, Hay River, Fort Simpson, Inuvik, and Fort Good Hope, and work with community partners to provide emergency housing for those most in need. As part of Housing NWT's renewal, the public housing intake application has been redesigned to include the social factor points for individuals experiencing homelessness as part of the point rating system. It now considers an applicant's housing history, looking specifically at periods where an individual has been unsheltered, emergency accommodations are needed or provisionally accommodated.
Finally, Mr. Speaker, Housing NWT continues to move forward with the housing stability worker pilot program, which started in Behchoko in the fall of 2018. This strength-based program provides direct support to public housing tenants at risk of eviction through a client-centered approach to improve tenancy practices and work towards the household goals. The Tlicho government is working with Housing NWT to build on this program.
Mr. Speaker, these homelessness programs and partnerships are key to helping the most vulnerable residents and improving housing outcomes for Northerners. Housing NWT recognizes that there is still a long way to go in terms of helping all residents reach their housing goals. We are proud to be working towards putting these goals to reach many Northerners. We will continue to listen, build, and work with our partners and stakeholders to address homelessness in the NWT.
I would like to thank the commitment and creativity of Housing NWT staff for taking the direction and initiative to create housing programs to best house and support the needs for the people of the Northwest Territories. Your time and effort have been greatly appreciated. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.