With an apartment vacancy rate that has been less than 1% for several years, rental accommodation is very difficult to find in Regina.
Regina is no longer a cheap place to live. Housing prices have risen rapidly and Regina rents have increased by over 40% in the last four years. It’s difficult to find a two-bedroom apartment for under $1,000 a month.
It’s often families with young children, single mothers, and those trying to get a foothold in the job market who find themselves without a home.
In Regina, few homeless people live on the streets or in parks. Our homeless are couch surfing, doubling up, living in overcrowded conditions, squatting in abandoned buildings, and, in extreme cases, living in tents, garages, and cars.
Regina has at least 19 shelters or transitional housing locations. In 2009, an average of 267 people each night stayed in these. Over the whole year, 3,618 individuals stayed in homeless shelters or transitional housing in Regina, a number that includes at least 144 families. This winter these shelters have been stretched beyond capacity.
“When you’re homeless and unemployed, and you have no money, it could be a full-time job getting to these places, just knowing where your next meal’s coming from.” –A formerly homeless individual
In 2006 in Regina, 15,600 households in Regina spent 30% or more of their income on shelter – a level that indicates unaffordability. That’s 41% of tenant households. Rents have increased a lot since 2006 so there are even more households that cannot afford housing now. A single person working full-time at minimum wage would spend three-quarters of their monthly income on rent and food alone.
Homeless youth are living in shelters or bunking with friends– many are fleeing abusive situations. In 2009, at least 167 youth under the age of 18 stayed at shelters. 82 of these were under the age of 11.
HOMELESSNESS AND WOMEN
Men may experience less trouble than women when trying to access homeless shelters. There are a limited number spaces for women who are not victims of domestic violence. While there are over 130 spaces for men there are just over 80 spaces for women, a fraction of which are available for women with children. These women’s shelters are often full to capacity, meaning that on many nights, there are severely limited options for women in crisis situations.
HELP END HOMELESSNESS IN REGINA
Community Coffee House
Conversations on Housing and Homeless: Solutions–January 26, 1-5 pm, German Club, 1727 St. John St. Sponsored by the Urban Aboriginal Strategy. Plan to attend. For more information email email@example.com
Toque Tuesday–February 8
Rainbow Youth Centre’s Youth Express Team is part of Raising the Roof’s National “Toque Tuesday” Campaign. Toques are available for $10 from Rainbow Youth Centre (757-9743). All funds raised in Regina support homeless youth in Regina and:
“Help us not only find homes for youth 16-25, but once we find them a home, through various programs, life skills and mentoring programs, we help them to retain and maintain their homes.”–Dan Lindsay of Rainbow Youth Centre.
Bill C-304 is an Act to ensure secure, adequate, accessible, and affordable housing for Canadians. A private member’s bill, it was introduced into the House of Commons in 2009 by Libby Davies, MP for Vancouver East. To find out more about Bill C-304, go to: http://www2.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/ Publication.aspx?DocId=3660878&Language=e&Mode=1
Take action to end homelessness by asking your Member of Parliament to support Bill C-304. The House will soon vote on the Bill.
Common Cause is a letter-writing campaign. Initiated by the Making Peace Vigil, it consists of a loose coalition of local groups and organizations. Individuals can also participate. Its initial goal is to provoke City Hall into taking action on housing and homelessness.
City Hall cannot solve all of Regina’s housing problems. For that to happen, the provincial and federal governments would have to be involved. There are, however, certain measures that come under the City’s jurisdiction, which, if City Hall chose to act on them, would go some way to address the current housing crisis.
City Council can pass rent control laws.
- City Council can pass landlord licensing laws.
- City Council can develop affordable housing units that would be managed by the Regina Housing Authority.
- City Hall can require developers to include affordable housing in their plans or to pay a fee into an affordable housing account.
- City of Regina by-laws give City Council the power to deny applications for condo conversions when apartment vacancy rate is under 3%. Even though the vacancy rate was less than 1% in 2008 and 2009, Council approved 24 of 27 condo conversion applications.
Join the Common Cause campaign to end homelessness in Regina. For more information, contact Florence Stratton: firstname.lastname@example.org or 522-2310.
“As a community, we need to work together to really meet the needs of the people, not to put bandaids on them all the time.”–Margaret Aken, CEO of All Nations Hope Aids Network.