Making Peace Vigil

Standing up for peace

REGINA’S HOUSING CRISIS

Posted by strattof on July 14, 2010

Many Regina households live in inadequate or unsuitable dwellings or face unaffordable shelter costs. Rents continue to escalate and some Regina residents have no permanent place to live.

  • Nine per cent rent increase. The average apartment rent in Regina increased 9% from April 2009 to April 2010.  And this is on top of a 33% increase over the previous two and a half years.  This April, the average monthly rent for a two bedroom apartment in Regina was $858.
  • Scarce rental housing.  The rental apartment vacancy rate in Regina is 0.8%, the second lowest among Canadian cities.  With little new rental construction and existing apartments being converted to condominiums, there are now fewer rental apartments available in Regina than there were in 2008.  
  • Unaffordable housing.  In 2006, 15,600 Regina households spent 30% or more of their income on shelter – an unaffordable level.  Over 40% cent of tenant households found housing unaffordable. 
  • Substandard housing.  In 2006, 8% of Regina dwellings were in need of major repairs.  In the central area of the city 15% were substandard.  
  • Homelessness.  The homeless rate in Saskatchewan is among the highest in Canada.  In Regina, an estimated 345 people slept in homeless shelters every night, and 3,000 used homeless centres at some time during the year.    
  • Housing for women and children who have experienced violence.  Homelessness has become a grave concern and a serious reality for many women and children.  A lack of affordable housing in Saskatchewan is one of the most powerful barriers in keeping women from exiting dangerous, abusive, and violent situations.  With limited space in shelters, the women simply have nowhere else to go.  (See the report from the Provincial Association of Transition Houses and Services of Saskatchewan http://www.abusehelplines.org/past_projects.php)
  • Housing and the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  According to this Declaration, to which Canada is a signatory, housing is a right of citizenship:  “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.”

If we can find a billion dollars to guard 20 heads of state at a lavish summit, surely we can find the funds to ensure everyone has a decent dwelling to call home.  But this will require all levels of government to develop housing policies that include a financial commitment to affordable, safe, and accessible housing.   

CONVERSION OF REGINA APARTMENTS TO CONDOMINIUMS

  • Mainly because of rental unit conversion to condominiums, the number of Regina private rental apartments declined by 117 units between 2008 and 2009 (Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation).
  • City of Regina by-laws give City Council the power to deny applications for condo conversions if the conversion would create “significant hardship for more than 10% of the tenants.”  Council can also say “no” to condo conversions if the apartment vacancy rate is under 3%.  Even though the vacancy rate fell to under 1%, Council approved 24 of 27 condo conversion applications dating from 2008. 
  • To its credit, City Council placed a moratorium on new applications for condo conversions in 2008.  Moreover, it is currently conducting a review of its policy on condominium conversion.
  • Let City Council know that condo conversions should always be denied when the apartment vacancy rate is under 3%.  Submissions can be made until July 31 by sending an email to cmd@uregina.ca

 MAKING PEACE VIGIL July 8, 2010

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