Making Peace Vigil

Standing up for peace

HOUSING CRISIS

Posted by strattof on March 31, 2012

Regina’s housing crisis is only getting worse. In October 2011, our city had a vacancy rate of 0.6%, the lowest in the country and down 0.1% from six months earlier. In January 2012, Regina City Council approved the demolition of a 46 unit low-rent apartment block in downtown Regina. In February 2012, Westland Properties, the owner of most of the rental units in the General Hospital area, announced that all of its properties are being reviewed for redevelopment. The 2012 provincial budget, contains nothing new when it comes to affordable housing.    

NO FOOLING  

BI-NATIONAL DAY OF HOUSING ACTION

SUNDAY APRIL 1

 10 am                  Meet on the corner of Victoria Avenue and Lorne Street by Knox Met United Church.

10 – 11am           Distribute information about Regina’s housing crisis in downtown Regina.  

Along with 1000s of other Canadians and Americans, demand housing justice. Organized by the USA, Canada Alliance of Inhabitants.

REGINA’S HOUSING CRISIS: 10 KEY FACTS

1.      In 2010, over 3,400 people used one or more of the city’s shelter services. Many others double-bunked, couch-surfed, or lived in overcrowded unhealthy conditions. These latter groups could easily double the number of homeless people in Regina.

2.      Between 2006 and 2010, homeless shelter use in Regina rose by 44.5%.

3.      In 2010, 83.7% of shelter users were unable to find a home to live in after leaving the shelter.

4.      Since 2006, the average resale price of residential homes in Saskatchewan has risen more than 83%.

5.      Between October 2009 and October 2011, the number of apartments in Regina decreased by 260. Over the period, many apartment buildings were converted to condominiums.

6.      Regina’s apartment vacancy rate has remained at or below 1% since 2008. A 3% vacancy rate is considered normal. Since April 2011, Regina has had the lowest apartment vacancy rate in Canada.  

7.      Since 2006, average rents in Regina have increased by 9% a year. Between 2006 and 2010, average rents in Regina went up 43%.

8.      The average monthly rate for a one bedroom apartment in Regina in October 2011 was $790, an increase of $48 (6.5%) a month from the previous year. Assuming a 40-hour work week for 4.34 weeks a month, individuals earning the minimum wage of $9.50 an hour would spend approximately 49% of their before-tax income on rent for a one-bedroom apartment. The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation defines “Affordable Housing” as costing a household 30% or less of its before-tax income.

9.      A cashier earning $1,811.30 per month cannot afford a one bedroom apartment in Regina. Nor can a security guard earning $2,031.43 per month or a food services supervisor earning $2,395 per month.

10.  For a minimum wage-earner to afford a bachelor apartment in Regina, the minimum wage would have to rise from its current rate of $9.50 to $10.04 per hour. A three bedroom apartment would require a minimum wage of $20.35.

SOLVING THE HOUSING CRISIS

The biggest causes of homelessness are

1. Financial: loss of a job, rent increases, a fixed income;

2. Lack of affordable housing.

Relying on the private sector to solve the housing crisis will only send more people out into the cold. The Saskatchewan housing market has been unregulated for 20 years. If it were in the interest of the private sector to provide affordable housing, it would already have done so and there would be no housing crisis.

The solution to the housing crisis is intervention in the housing market by all levels of government. Here are some of the things each level of government can do:

CITY COUNCIL can

  • Develop affordable housing units that would be managed by the Regina Housing Authority.
  • Require developers to include affordable housing in their plans or to pay a fee into an affordable housing account.
  • Deny applications for demolition permits when the apartment vacancy rate is under 3%.
  • Put pressure on the federal government to develop a long-term national affordable housing program involving all levels of government.

 THE PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT can

  • Build affordable homes and rental accommodation.
  • Allocate 3% of all natural resource royalties to affordable housing.
  • Put pressure on the federal government to develop a long-term national affordable housing program involving all levels of government.

 THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT can

  • Develop a long-term national affordable housing program involving all levels of government.

BOOM FOR WHOM?

Our city is experiencing unprecedented prosperity. But clearly the economic good times have not delivered equally good results for all. As a result, there is more and more misery and suffering.

We could house everyone if we had the will to do so. What kind of city do we want to live in?

HOUSING IS A HUMAN RIGHT

Safe, secure housing is a human right.

  • It is protected under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “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, [and] housing.”
  • The right to housing is also enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, signed into law in 1982. Because it puts their health and life at risk, homelessness breaches a homeless person’s Charter Section 7 rights to “life, liberty and security of person.”
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