Thursday, January 13, 2011

Easy Solutions

    For several years a family of seven now living in Stanley Mission has been trying to move home to Brabant Lake. They participated in sewing and cooking classes and Christmas concerts when they could.  When the wife’s father died I talked to her about their moving back to her home. It was settled that they were coming home. The house was left available so  we prayed every day that they would arrive. They intended to use the Catholic school so Vaughn Skogstad head of La Ronge Housing Authority did every thing possible to stop them. It had been a family home for perhaps forty  years but all of a sudden the house was boarded up.  It was sclaimed to be the property of La Ronge Housing Authority property and  they were going to let the mines employees live in empty houses.
    The people involved in the gold mine did not want to live in the village put at the site. Probably they never intended to use the houses and it was only an excuse not to let the family have it. Mining operators are expected to have a large cash flow. Why would public housing be made available to them while low income people are chased into homes without electricity and any plumbing? It is very good that people build their own homes. We congratulate them for their skill and independence.  But why is public housing made out of reach of those northerners who want to work and make decisions for themselves and their family.
    Visitors from the south were led to believe there is a housing shortage . They couldn’t understand why there are all these good houses boarded- up. Public housing is not about providing homes for low income people. It is about controlling people for political and ideological reasons.
    I first saw Vaughn Skogstad at the foyer of the La Ronge Post Office. He was working at getting a pilot to come work at the NDP headquarters. As acting NDP campaign manager Vaughn was just doing his job. But when the NDP campaign manager is also head of La Ronge Housing whose tentacles spread all over the North we’ve got problems. There has been too many incidences of threatening people out of their home if they don’t do as they’re told whether or not there’s an election. People know he makes good his threats. He just invents a rent level impossible to meet and shoves. Few people have the resources to appeal his illegal moves.
    One thing that intrigues me is where is the financial accountability on all this? Who oversees the money flow?  Where did the extra $5000 go that we paid and  wasn’t included in the cost of our house? Where would somebody’s  arbitrary “arrears” of $1500 go if we were naive enough to pay it rather than fight it? In 1981 the General Accountant of the Legislature called DNS (Department of Northern Services)a bureaucracy run amok. Has the muck been stopped? Or has it just got higher, deeper and smellier? Few of the players have changed. They are now called senior civil servants “ with a wealth of experience.” Experience doing what? Denying people civil liberties ? Being chameleons at sounding conservative while the agenda hasn’t changed?
    There are some very simple solutions.
* Set a reasonable value on a house. When the tenant has paid that amount of rent let him have it AND GIVE HIM THE TITLE TO THE HOUSE AND LAND. If the band or social services has paid for some or all of the rent it has been paid on his behalf and should be counted as his payments. What if he just sells it or gives it away? That is the beauty of private property. You can sell it, keep it, or give it away and that’s your business.

*Turn public housing into affordable housing with a fixed rent so people can afford to go to work full or part - time.

*Subsidise water delivery and fuel for working people with a low- income. If they don’t get help in these areas they may be forced back on welfare.

* Butt out of private decisions including educational and political choice.

* And replace people like the director of La Ronge Housing who has used his position many times to bully people and deny them basic rights.

For freedom and property, Gay