Making Peace Vigil

Standing up for peace

HOUSING CRISIS: LET’S DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!

Posted by strattof on April 3, 2014

6 K E Y   F A C T S

  1. Regina’s rental vacancy rate is 1.8%. A healthy vacancy rate is 3%.
  2. In 2010, the last year for which figures are available, over 3,400 people used Regina’s shelter services.
  3. Many others double bunked, couch surfed, or lived in overcrowded unhealthy conditions. Some even lived in cars or garages. These latter groups could easily double the number of homeless people in Regina.
  4. Today, the city’s shelter system is filled to capacity.
  5. The average monthly rent for a one bedroom apartment in Regina is $875.A full-time minimum wage worker, earning $1,736 per month cannot afford it. Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation defines “affordable housing” as costing a household 30% or less of its before-tax income.
  6. A significant amount of rental housing in Regina is below acceptable standards.

WHAT IS CITY COUNCIL DOING TO ADDRESS REGINA’S 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.
  • City Council has rejected repeated requests to implement a rental unit licensing policy to ensure rental housing in Regina meets minimum health and safety standards.

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.”

SOLVING REGINA’S HOUSING 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 housing 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 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.

TAKE ACTION

Let Mayor Fougere and your City Councillor know you want them to take action to solve Regina’s housing crisis.

Mayor Michael Fougere 777-7339 or mayor@regina.ca

Ward 1: Barbara Young 539-4081 or byoung@regina.ca

Ward 2: Bob Hawkins 789-2888 or bhawkins@regina.ca

Ward 3: Shawn Fraser 551-5030 or sfraser@regina.ca

Ward 4: Bryon Burnett 737-3347 or bburnett@regina.ca

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

Ward 6: Wade Murray 596-1035 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 Hincks             949-9690 or thincks@regina.ca

Ward 10:Jerry Flegel               537-9888 or jflegel@regina.ca

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One Response to “HOUSING CRISIS: LET’S DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!”

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