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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Housing natives in northern regions : a comparative analysis of approaches in Canada, the United States, and the USSR Tyakoff, Alexander


Using a cross-national comparative approach, this thesis examines the Native housing crisis in the Northwest Territories, Alaska, and northern USSR from 1980 to 1990. The affordability, adequacy, and suitability of public and private sector housing is analyzed, as well as their structural and cultural limitations in a northern context. This study found that many low and moderate-income Natives in these regions are unable to afford expensive market rental housing, are ineligible for government or company accommodation or sheltered in overcrowded public housing. Premised on non-Native values and market assumptions, public and private sector housing is exclusionary and discriminates against a Native way of life, and has created the conditions in which people are polarized based on income and tenure. Given the failure of public and private sector housing to meet the shelter requirements of Natives, this thesis argues that there is a need for community-based housing alternatives. Housing co-operatives have the potential to increase security of tenure as well as the stock of decent and affordable housing, and to reduce cultural cleavages and socio-tenurial polarization through meaningful social and income-mixing. By responding to Native housing needs in such a culturally-sensitive manner, co-operatives have the potential to reduce dependencies on housing agencies and the private sector by effectively shifting control of housing to the community as a whole. Given the potential of housing co-operatives, however, this tenure has made relatively few inroads into the Northwest Territories, Alaska, and northern USSR. This study concludes that problems of implementation and affordability, privatism and inertia in housing policy, and a dependency on public and private sector housing have impeded the wider development of northern co-operatives.

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