Five new houses coming to Łutselk'e, N.W.T., with five more possibly on the way, chief says

·3 min read
Łutselk'e, N.W.T., is expecting five pre-fabricated houses to arrive via barge this summer. The community is in the process of negotiating funding for an additional five units. (Natalie Pressman/CBC - image credit)
Łutselk'e, N.W.T., is expecting five pre-fabricated houses to arrive via barge this summer. The community is in the process of negotiating funding for an additional five units. (Natalie Pressman/CBC - image credit)

Łutselk'e, N.W.T., is getting five new houses this summer, and five more could be coming.

The Łutsel K'e Dene First Nation's chief, Darryl Marlowe, said that's good news for a community he characterized as "in a housing crisis."

Marlowe said Łutselk'e can expect five prefabricated houses to arrive by barge this summer. An additional five units could also be coming, subject to federal funding.

The community's SAO, Andre Larbie, confirmed negotiations are underway but declined to provide further details until the deal is completed.

Marlowe pointed to overcrowding to highlight the need for the new houses.

He said he knows of at least one two-bedroom unit that houses 12 people.

Chase Lockhart is among the Łutselk'e residents hoping to secure one of the new homes.

Lockhart has been on the community's housing waitlist for three years, though he said, "there's other people that have been waiting longer so I can't really complain."

Natalie Pressman/CBC
Natalie Pressman/CBC

Lockhart put his name on the list around the same time he secured full-time employment as a guardian with Thaidene Nëné National Park Reserve in 2019.

Until he gets a place of his own, Lockhart – along with his two-year-old daughter and his girlfriend – are staying with his parents.

He said his girlfriend's parents also have a full house with their son and his kids.

"It's alright, it's up and down but we still need to have our own space," Lockhart said.

J.C. Catholique is a band councillor with the First Nation.

He said open staffing positions are adding to the community's housing pressures.

At least 20 positions with the band have gone unfilled for the last several months, he said, because there is no where to house new employees.

"We can't hire anybody because we need staff housing," he said.

Catholique said the band tries to encourage residents to further their education so positions can be filled by those already living in Łutselk'e, "but the thing is, we can't get them back because of housing," he said of the community's graduates.

Catholique said chief and council haven't yet determined who will get the new units, but there's a chance the band will take some of the new homes for its staff. He pointed to teachers coming in from outside the community who need housing as well.

Natalie Pressman/CBC
Natalie Pressman/CBC

Marlowe said the community brought in a contractor earlier in the year to identify where new houses could be built.

From that inspection, he said they identified 14 lots.

Marlowe said he wasn't sure how Marine Transportation Services's new 24 per cent fuel surcharges would impact the deal, but said "there's probably funding out there that we could secure to help us transport it."

"Even if the surcharges are going up we still have to try and get houses here because I think that's the main goal."

Natalie Pressman/CBC
Natalie Pressman/CBC

Marlowe said the new units are thanks to advocacy from MP Michael McLeod.

"He's always been advocating for our smaller communities," Marlowe said.

The chief added proper housing is the foundation for a thriving community.

"If people have homes over their head, we'll be a happier community. That's the main goal."

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