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Teacher housing report released
Association surveyed more than 200 teachers about living accomodations

Kassina Ryder
Northern News Services
Published Monday, May 6, 2013

The NWT Teachers' Association released the first of two reports last week highlighting the housing issues facing the territory's educators.

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Gayla meredith: A follow-up report is due in June.

The report stated nearly half of the teachers who responded to the survey spent between 40 and 50 per cent of their disposable income on housing costs.

Gayla Meredith, president of the NWTTA, said the number surprised her.

"Almost 48 per cent of the respondents said they were spending more than 30 per cent of their pre-tax income for shelter-related costs, which surprised us," Meredith said.

Paying thousands in rent for inadequate housing is a primary reason many teachers leave the community, the report stated.

"Some people will not think sharing accommodations with someone is acceptable, or the conditions may not be acceptable," Meredith said.

"In some of the anecdotal comments, we heard about people considering, 'If things don't improve, I have no other option but to move, to leave the community.'"

The report also stated teachers with families are often discouraged from applying for jobs because of a lack of space in available housing.

"In some communities, there are no options for housing and there is more than one teacher sharing with other teachers or other community members," Meredith said. "Those are some of the issues."

According to the report, the Beaufort Delta had the highest rate of survey responders.

"The greatest number of responses came from districts that have more remote, off-road communities and where housing issues are greater and more costly," the report stated.

Almost 60 per cent of teachers in that region responded to the survey.

"Interestingly enough, districts with the higher return rates are also those, according to the Department of Education, Culture, and Employment, where turnover is the greatest and where student achievement is lower," stated the report

A followup report, due next month, will focus on individual communities and will identify priority issues, Meredith said.

"We do understand it's a complex issue, there is many layers to this and it's not going to be solved overnight," she said.

"We're looking forward to working with other people involved in housing and working together on solutions. It's not about pointing fingers or any of that. It's about identifying the realities and seeing what can be done to address them."

She said the NWTTA is working with the NWT Housing Corporation to work on opening available housing units to teachers.

The association also plans to work with the housing corporation, ECE and other government departments to determine long-term solutions, Meredith said. She said the NWTTA is also working with the Department of Justice to re-evaluate the NWT Residential Tenancy Act, which outlines the roles and responsibilities of landlords and tenants.

Meredith said the NWTTA wants landlords to provide better justification if rents are increased significantly, as well as working on ways to better enforce rules outlined in the act.

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