Making Peace Vigil

Standing up for peace

REGINA’S HOUSING CRISIS

Posted by strattof on April 22, 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 at 1755 Hamilton Street.
  • In February 2012, Regina City Council cleared the way for the demolition of another low-rent building, the Crescent Apartments at 1550 14th Avenue.  
  • The 2012 provincial budget, contains nothing new when it comes to affordable housing.    

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: WHAT REGINA CITY COUNCIL CAN DO

Asked to take action on Regina’s housing crisis, elected city officials are likely to respond:  “Housing is not a municipal responsibility.” But that is just a way of passing the buck. Are dome stadiums a municipal responsibility?

City Council certainly can’t solve all of Regina’s housing problems. For that to happen, the provincial and federal governments have to be involved. There are, however, measures the City can take that would go a long way in addressing the current housing crisis.

CITY COUNCIL can

  • 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%.
  • Strike a Regina Housing Task Force with a mandate to solve the immediate crisis by using already completed local research; by identifying empty buildings that could be converted into affordable housing units; and by putting pressure on the provincial government to fund affordable housing projects.
  • Put pressure on the federal government to develop a long-term national affordable housing program involving all levels of government.

CITY COUNCIL can also adopt affordable housing strategies that have been successful in other Canadian cities.

  • Not long ago, Saskatoon had a lower vacancy rate than Regina. Now it has a 2.6% vacancy rate, which is quite close to the 3% rate that is considered normal. By contrast, Regina has a vacancy rate of 0.6%, the lowest in the country. What has Saskatoon done differently? Since 2008, Saskatoon has been very proactive in addressing housing issues. To meet the city’s increasing need for affordable housing, its city council has partnered with other levels of government, along with non-profit housing providers, religious and other community organizations, financial institutions, and private businesses.
  • In 2008, Calgary adopted a 10 year plan to end homelessness. The plan is based on the “Housing First” philosophy, a philosophy “which puts the highest priority on moving homeless people into permanent housing with the support necessary to sustain that housing.” It involves “all levels of government, the private sector, the non-profit and faith communities and the public working together to end homelessness.” In its first three years, the Housing First initiative found permanent housing and support for 2000 people.

WHAT YOU AND I CAN DO

●We can contact elected city officials and tell them we want City Council to take action on housing. ●We can contact the candidates for mayor in the October 2012 municipal election and ask them where they stand on the issue of affordable housing. ●We can write letters to the editor of local newspapers expressing our desire to live in a city where there is housing for all citizens.   

CITY COUNCIL CONTACT INFORMATION

Mayor Pat Fiacco: 777-7339 or PFiacco@regina.ca

Ward 1, Louis Browne: 531-5151 or LBrowne@regina.ca

Ward 2, Jocelyn Hutchinson: 584-1739 or JHutchinson@regina.ca

Ward 3, Fred Clipsham: 757-8212 or FClipsham@regina.ca

Ward 4, Michael Fougere: 789-5586 or MFougere@regina.ca

Ward 5, John Findura: 536-4250 or JFindura@regina.ca

Ward 6, Wade Murray: 522-8683 or WMurray@regina.ca

Ward 7, Sharron Bryce: 949-5025 or SBryce@regina.ca

Ward 8, Mike O’Donnell: 545-7300 or MOdonnell@regina.ca

Ward 9, Terry Hinks: 949-9690 or Thinks@regina.ca

Ward 10, Chris Szarka: 551-2766 or CSzarka@regina.ca

To send a message by regular mail, use the following address: 2476 Victoria Avenue, PO Box 1790, Regina S4P 3C8.

CANDIDATES FOR MAYOR

Jim Elliott: caar@accesscomm.ca or 352-4804

Michael Fougere: MFougere@regina.ca or 789-5586

David Robert Loblaw: Loblaw2012@gmail.com or 541-8300

Chad Novak: chadnovak2012@gmail.com

Meka Okochi: info@mekaokochi.ca   

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?

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13 Responses to “REGINA’S HOUSING CRISIS”

  1. […] about a host of issues to do with social justice, peace, and the environment – not to mention the dire need for affordable housing in Regina. They’ve been on the front lines of that fight, and were among those trying to stop the recent […]

  2. Sam said

    I’m about to lose my mind and so should all of you.
    This is pure insanity.
    I cannot afford a place to live! I have a university education and a good career with a decent salary! I have a daughter to support. Makes me want to leave this province. Except I did that once, and I couldn’t find a job. That’s the whole point. You are all so greedy it makes me want to vomit. Those houses you are building don’t have building costs anywhere near the high prices you are charging. We had a beautiful home and now we are about to be homeless. And all you landlords charging a fortune for your crappy basement suites, shame on you!!

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