Regina is experiencing a homelessness crisis
- The average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Regina is $926, hardly affordable for a full-time minimum wage worker earning $1,863 per month. The commonly accepted definition of “affordable housing” is housing that costs a household 30% or less of its income.
- The YWCA is currently compiling a registry of homeless people in Regina. So far there are 240 names on the list.
- This figure does not include Regina’s hidden homeless—people who are double-bunking or couch-surfing—numbers that could double or triple the homeless figures.
- A disproportionate number of Regina’s homeless people are Indigenous.
- Regina’s shelters are filled to capacity.
BOOM BECOMES BUST
Regina’s homelessness crisis is so bad that a tent city sprang up last spring, with tents providing shelter for an ever-expanding number of people.
How did this happen?
- First there was a boom and rents went through the roof. Since 2006 they have doubled.
- For many folks this boom was a bust. They lost their housing because of rising rents and stagnant incomes.
- Now there is a bust, but rents are still going up. More people are losing their housing.
City officials and property owners forced the residents of Regina’s tent city to move at least four times. Housing is a human right, recognized under Article 25 of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.
SHELTERS ARE NOT THE ANSWER
Regina has six emergency shelters, with 169 beds in total. That’s not enough beds to even accommodate the 240 Regina residents who are registered as homeless.
But emergency shelters are not the answer to Regina’s homelessness crisis.
- Shelters are often not safe.
- Shelters do not allow for self-reliance or a sense of dignity.
- Shelters are not homes. A home is more than a place to sleep. It is a place where one can be any time one chooses and where one can keep one’s possessions—conditions not met by shelters, where, typically, folks have to be out of the building between 9 am and 6 pm, taking all their possessions with them.
What is the solution to Regina’s homelessness crisis? Affordable rental housing.
Mayor Michael Fougere ran on a platform of ending homelessness during the 2016 municipal election. In his words:
- “We need to provide more housing and we need to end home-lessness. Those are the major things I want to see happen.”
- ”It’s all about choices, and if we as a community believe [ending homelessness] is a priority, we’ll make it a priority.”
These are encouraging words!
PASSING THE BUCK
The Mayor’s preferred solution is Housing First, a program that first finds permanent housing for people experiencing homelessness and then offers them support, as needed.
The trouble is, the Mayor refuses to put any money into Housing First. Despite his election promises, he’s now saying that homelessness is not a municipal issue and that he expects the federal and provincial governments to provide all the funding. In other words, he’s passing the buck.
Currently, Regina’s Housing First program only receives funding from the federal government—a mere $700,000 annually. As a result, the program only has the capacity to house a few dozen people.
Where does this leave the 200 plus other people on the YWCA homelessness registry, not to mention all those who make up our city’s hidden homeless? Their misery and suffering continue.
ENDING HOMELESSNESS IN REGINA
Mayor Fougere is right: The City of Regina cannot, on its own, solve Regina’s homelessness crisis. It can, however, initiate a solution. Here’s a simple four-point plan:
- Stop passing the buck. Start a Housing First Fund. Put $100,000 into it. The money can be taken from the 2016 operating fund surplus.
- Ask local businesses to make matching grants.
- Let’s make it a community project. Many ordinary citizens would be happy to make a donation to end homelessness.
- When the fund reaches half a million, ask the provincial and federal governments for matching grants.
TAKE ACTION: END HOMELESSNESS IN REGINA
Let Mayor Fougere and your City Councillor know you want them to end homelessness in Regina.
- Tell them you want the city to put money into Housing First.
- Ask them to find funding partners in the business community.
- Indicate you might be willing to make a (small) donation.
- Remind the Mayor of his election promise to end homelessness in Regina.
Mayor Michael Fougere 777-7339 or email@example.com
Ward 1: Barbara Young 539-4081 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Ward 2: Bob Hawkins 789-2888 or email@example.com
Ward 3: Andrew Stevens 570-1402 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Ward 4: Lori Bresciani 570-1995 or email@example.com
Ward 5: John Findura 536-4250 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Ward 6: Joel Murray 519-2232 or email@example.com
Ward 7: Sharron Bryce 949-5025 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Ward 8: Mike O’Donnell 545-7300 or email@example.com
Ward 9: Jason Mancinelli 519-0078 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Ward 10:Jerry Flegel 537-9888 or email@example.com
Ordinary letters are also effective: City of Regina, Queen Elizabeth II Court, 2476 Victoria Avenue, PO Box 1790, Regina, S4P 3C8