Making Peace Vigil

Standing up for peace

NATIONAL HOUSING DAY

Posted by strattof on November 23, 2012

There is a housing crisis in Regina:

  • The apartment vacancy rate is 0.6%, meaning almost no available rental accommodation.
  • Many city residents remain homeless. In 2010, over 3,400 people used one or more of the city’s shelter services.  Many others double bunk, couch surf, or live in overcrowded, unhealthy conditions.  Some even live in cars or garages.

NATIONAL DAY OF HOUSING ACTION

Red Tents are a symbol of Canada’s housing crisis and demonstrate the growing support for a national housing strategy.  Such a strategy could end homelessness and ensure secure, adequate and affordable housing for all people living in Canada.

Bill C400, introduced to the House of Commons by Marie-Claude Morin, MP for Saint-Hyacinthe-Bagot, seeks to revive the National Housing Strategy.  Sign the petition to support Bill C400, an Act to ensure secure, adequate and affordable housing for Canadians.

HOUSING IN REGINA: 10 KEY FACTS

1.      According to one estimate, nearly 7,000 people in Regina are close to, or have recently experienced, homelessness.

2.      Between 2008 and 2010, homeless shelter use in Regina rose by 44.5%.

3.      The average resale price of residential homes in Regina increased from $132,000 in 2006 to $300,000 in 2012, a 127% increase.

4.      Between 2006 and 2011, the number of apartments in Regina decreased by over 500, as apartments were converted to condominiums or torn down. Over the same period, Regina’s population increased by 14,000 people; many of these are newcomers who need rental housing.

5.      Regina’s apartment vacancy rate has remained at or below 1% since 2008. A 3% vacancy rate is considered normal. In April 2012, Regina had the lowest apartment vacancy rate in Canada, at 0.6%.  This translates into only 65 vacant apartments in the city.

6.      Since 2006, average rents in Regina have increased by over 8% a year.  From 2006 to 2011, average rents in Regina went up 52%.

7.      The average monthly rent for a one bedroom apartment was $817 in Regina in April 2012.  An individual earning the $9.50 minimum wage would need to devote 50% of before-tax income to rent (assuming a 40-hour work week for 52 weeks). “Affordable Housing” means 30% or less of before-tax income for housing.

8.      For a two-bedroom Regina apartment, average monthly rent increased from $619 in 2006 to $970 this year, with a rate of $1010 expected for next year.  

9.      20% of Regina households live in ‘core housing need,’ meaning they can’t find a home that costs less than 30% of their household income, that has enough room for its occupants, or that doesn’t need major repairs.

10.  A recent Salvation Army survey reported that one in five Saskatchewan adults has come close to or has actually experienced homelessness at some time in his/her life.

SOLVING THE HOUSING CRISIS

The biggest causes of homelessness are

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

2. Lack of affordable housing.

Relying on the private sector to solve the housing crisis will only send more people into the cold.  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.

To solve the housing crisis we need leadership from and 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

  • 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%.
  • Identify empty buildings that can be converted into affordable housing units and fund their renovation.
  • Purchase the land the province is selling in the city’s northwest and develop it, using the proceeds to build affordable housing.
  • Put pressure on the federal government to develop a long-term national affordable housing program involving all levels of government.

THE PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT can

  • Stop the sale of Housing Authority rental properties and build more affordable 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 economic expansion. But this has not delivered good times for all. We could house everyone if we had the will to do so.

What kind of city do we want to live in?

Affordable housing – more than a roof over your head

 “Affordable housing addresses a basic need in communities across Canada — the need for safe, stable and suitable places for families and individuals to live. But affordable housing does more than provide a roof over your head — it makes our communities better places to live, work and grow.” –  Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation

TAKE ACTION

  • In City Council meetings, Councillors and the Mayor have said that creating affordable housing is to be a priority for the City.  Mayor Fougere admits that “what we’re doing isn’t working” and is calling for a housing summit.  Let’s put the pressure on our elected Councillors and Mayor to schedule the housing summit soon and take some real and immediate action to solve our housing crisis.
  • Let Mayor Fougere and your City Councillor know your concerns about affordable housing and homelessness.   Go to the City of Regina homepage (www.regina.ca) and click on “contact” (upper right-hand corner).
  • Let’s make 2013 a year that affordable housing is created in Regina.

NATIONAL HOUSING DAY November 22 2012

Participating groups include: Regina Anti-Poverty Network, University of Regina Social Work Students Society, Red Tent Campaign, Queen City Tenants Association, and Making Peace Vigil. 

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