This Saturday, July 6, is I Love Regina Day. First observed in 2002, I Love Regina Day is an occasion for celebrating our city and its achievements.
It is also a good time to think about the changes we need to bring about in our city to make life better for all Regina citizens.
Regina’s economy is booming. A booming economy sounds like a very good thing until we ask the question: Boom for whom?
While many Regina citizens are experiencing unprecedented prosperity, others are facing unparalleled misery because of the lack of affordable housing.
H O M E L E S S I N R E G I N A
5 K E Y F A C T S
1. In 2010, the last year for which figures are available, over 3,400 people used Regina’s shelter services.
2. Today, the city’s shelters are filled to capacity.
3. The average monthly rent for a two bedroom apartment in Regina is $1,001, hardly affordable for many working Reginans. Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation defines “affordable housing” as costing a household 30% or less of its before-tax income.
4. A full-time minimum wage worker, earning $1736 per month, cannot even afford a one bedroom apartment (average monthly rent of $857).
5. Recently, tenants of a Cathedral area apartment block received notice that their rent was going up 77%. A public outcry forced the landlord to reconsider.
WHAT IS CITY COUNCIL DOING TO ADDRESS REGINA’S AFFORDABLE RENTAL HOUSING CRISIS?
The short answer to this question is ALMOST NOTHING!
For years, Regina City Council claimed housing does not come under the jurisdiction of cities. Now Mayor Michael Fougere is saying “Homelessness is not a municipal responsibility.” That’s a direct quote.
The City’s new housing plan uses a “made in Regina” definition of affordable rental housing as “housing with rents at or below average market rent.” As everyone knows, market rent housing is not affordable for many Regina citizens.
The City’s new housing plan calls for the City to offer developers of market rental housing a capital incentive of $15,000 per unit. In other words, the City is shifting millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money into the pockets of developers who will not be building any truly affordable rental units.
SOLVING REGINA’S HOMELESSNESS CRISIS
The City of Regina cannot solve all Regina’s housing problems. There are, however, a number of measures the City can take which will go some way towards addressing our city’s homelessness crisis.
The City of Regina can:
- Start seeing homelessness as a municipal responsibility which requires concrete action – as have other cities, including Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver, and Saskatoon.
- Apply the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s definition of affordability to rental housing: “The cost of adequate shelter should not exceed 30% of household income.”
- Require developers who receive the $15,000 per unit capital incentive to rent 10% of the units at the truly affordable rate of $500 per month.
- Require all developers to include truly affordable housing in their plans or pay a fee into an affordable housing account.
- Invest all revenue derived from the development or sale of City-owned land in social housing when the rental vacancy rate is below 3%.
- Deny applications for condo conversions when the rental vacancy rate is below 3%.
- Deny applications for rental property demolition permits when the vacancy rate is below 3%.
- Introduce rental unit licensing.
- Seize property that does not comply with City codes, as well as abandoned and boarded-up houses. Repair seized units and convert them to social housing.
- Pressure the provincial government to pass rent control legislation.
- Adopt a Housing First policy and ask the provincial government to support it – as Calgary and Edmonton have done in Alberta.
If the City of Regina can build a “social stadium” – a stadium built with public money – it can also build social housing.
I’D LOVE REGINA MORE
Join the I’d Love Regina More campaign. Let Mayor Michael Fougere and your City Councillor know you would love Regina more if the City would take concrete measures to address the city’s homelessness crisis.
Mayor Michael Fougere 777-7339 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Ward 1: Barbara Young 539-4081 or email@example.com
Ward 2: Bob Hawkins 789-2888 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Ward 3: Shawn Fraser 551-5030 or email@example.com
Ward 4: Bryon Burnett 737-3347 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Ward 5: John Findura 536-4250 or email@example.com
Ward 6: Wade Murray 596-1035 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Ward 7: Sharron Bryce 949-5025 or email@example.com
Ward 8: Mike O’Donnell 545-7300 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Ward 9: Terry Hincks 949-9690 or email@example.com
Ward 10:Jerry Flegel 537-9888 or firstname.lastname@example.org