Poor Housing, contributing to social ills, study finds

May 8, 2006 - CBC News - http://www.cbc.ca/north/story/nor-housing-inuit-study.html Nunavut's housing shortage is causing stress, depression and violence among Inuit, a professor from the University of British Columbia has found. Frank Tester surveyed 91 homes in Cape Dorset, a community 395 kilometres west of Iqaluit, last summer, and found nearly half the homes are overcrowded.  He says overcrowded housing is contributing to the territory's social problems."People get angry, and they get frustrated, and I think the overcrowding situation contributes to another big problem and that's domestic violence," said Tester, an associate professor at UBC's school of social work and family studies.Tester's research also shows that in crowded homes, 17 per cent of Inuit have trouble sleeping and 16 per cent say they feel stressed.One in five Inuit surveyed say they feel depressed because of their living situation, and just over half thought they would be healthier if they lived in a bigger home.At the rate the Inuit population is growing, Tester says it's only going to get worse, and not just in Cape Dorset."The only difference is some communities are growing much faster," and said.  "The birth rates in some communities are higher than other communities and the rate at which the population is expanding is different in some communities."Tester's study rings true for Elisapee Ottokie, who has 10 people living in her two-bedroom apartment.Her nephew's family moved in with her in November and will stay while they wait for a house of their own.  But that could take months."It gets frustrating.  I want to get into a bigger house," she said.  "I've been waiting for five years."Lawsuit a possibility?Tester says money isn't the only way to solve the problem."People need to get more involved in housing and housing management and housing association," he said.  "The other thing that Nunavut could use is a good co-op housing program."Last week, the federal government announced $200 million in funding to help deal with Nunavut's housing shortage over the next three years.FROM MAY 3, 2006: New Tory budget praised and panned in the North.  But Tester says that is merely a fraction of what the territory will need to fix the problem.In his report, Tester says the federal government has failed to support the well-being of Inuit.He recommends that Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., the territory's land-claim organization, sue the federal government the failing to promote equal opportunities for Inuit.