Considering that Inuit were at one time completely reliant on a subsistence economy, they did not live in permanent settlements. Pre colonization, they lived in seasonal communities following the seasonal migration of the animals that they depended upon for their survival. Inuit have only lived in fixed communities for two generations (since the 1950s-1960s), and inadequate housing has been a struggle since this time. Add to this the factors of remote communities, the high costs of materials and shipping, and a general lack of resources and infrastructure, lack of sufficient employment and it is easy to see how housing is a struggle for most Inuit families. As a recent study on Inuit women’s homelessness suggests, homelessness is a real risk for most Inuit women: “The threat of homelessness exists for a broad range of women, from the unemployed, to members of the workforce who have no subsidized housing or don’t earn enough to pay market rents, to Government of Nunavut employees who are in precarious possession of staff housing” (50) Furthermore, as recent statistics indicate, Pauktuutit’s membership faces the most crowded living conditions in all of Canada, which has a direct negative impact on a number of health concerns, such as social relationships, family violence, and children’s ability to learn. Additionally, considering the age demographics in Inuit communities—specifically that 50 per cent of Inuit are under the age of 25—access to safe and adequate housing is an even greater priority. This situation has lead to a housing crisis in Inuit communities, including the constant threat of becoming homeless in the harshest climate in all of Canada
Members of Pauktuutit understand that access to safe housing is key to the health and happiness of Inuit women and their families. The Board of Directors at Pauktuutit has therefore made access to safe and adequate housing a top priority to guide Pauktuutit’s work in the months and years to come. Currently Pauktuutit does not have any funded projects specific to Housing. However, Pauktuutit staff members have attended housing meetings at the National Aboriginal Health Organization (NAHO), which hosts a speaker series to learn more about ongoing housing initiatives. The last meeting was March 1, 2012.