Making Peace Vigil

Standing up for peace

CITY OF REGINA 2018 BUDGET

Posted by strattof on March 8, 2018

ENDING HOMELESSNESS IN REGINA

In the 2016 municipal election, Mayor Fougere ran on a platform of ending homelessness. In his words: “We need to provide more housing and we need to end homelessness. Those are the major things I want to see happen.

On February 27, 2018, City Council passed its 2nd budget since that election.  For the 2nd year in a row, there is no money for Housing First, the Mayor’s preferred solution to Regina’s homelessness crisis, and little if any money (“up to $2.5 million in capital grants”) for affordable rental housing. WE WANT CHANGE!

HOMELESS IN REGINA

  • The average monthly rent for one-bedroom apartment in Regina is $935, hardly affordable for a full-time minimum wage worker earning $1,899.73 per month. The commonly accepted definition of “affordable housing” is housing that costs a household 30% or less of its income.
  • Since 2016, the names on the Regina Registry of Homeless People has more than doubled, growing from 240 to 539 names.
  • This figure does not include Regina’s hidden homeless—people who are double-bunking or couch-surfing—numbers that would double or even triple the homeless figure.
  • Regina’s shelters are filled to capacity.
  • Homelessness is too often a death sentence. According to new statistics released by the coroner’s office, at least 146 people died due to exposure in Saskatchewan over the past decade.

TRUTH & RECONCILIATION

  • A vastly disproportionate number of homeless people in Regina are Indigenous, 75% according to a 2015 study.
  • This might be a good time to remember that Regina is located on Treaty 4 territory.
  • There will be no reconciliation until there is justice!

YET ANOTHER PLAN

Instead of taking concrete action to end homelessness, Mayor Fougere has put his considerable weight behind the development of yet another plan to end homelessness in Regina. There has already been an overabundance of such plans: the 2007 Regina Community Plan on Homelessness the 2013 Regina Comprehensive Housing Strategy the Mayor’s two Housing Summits the Mayor’s Housing Commission. Did nothing come out of these?

$60,000 of City of Regina taxpayers’ money has already been spent on this new plan—to hire consultants. This money could have been used to house homeless people.

The plan won’t be released until September. In the meantime, more and more Regina residents are experiencing the misery and suffering and injustice of homelessness!

2018 REGINA BUDGET

REGINA POLICE SERVICE A BUDGET PRIORITY

The same City of Regina budget that provides little or no money for ending homelessness has allocated oodles of money to Regina Police Service (RPS).

  • $88 million for operating expenses: That’s $3.4 million more than the 2017 budget and 20% of the City’s operating budget, the most of any budget item.
  • $375,000 for the purchase of a tank
  • $12 million in 2018 for the purchase of the former STC depot

Why would we do this, especially at a time when a growing number of Regina residents have no roof over their heads?

“PUBLIC SAFETY”

According to the RPS website, “ensuring public safety is the primary goal of the RPS.” It would seem that, from the perspective of City officials, “public” does not include homeless people. Being homeless is inherently unsafe. Indeed, homelessness kills!

Moreover, as RPS Chief Evan Bray has often stated, reducing homelessness is an effective crime reduction strategy.

ENDING HOMELESS

There needs to be a shift in budget priorities. Here are two modest proposals:

  1. Invest the $175,000 for the tank in Regina’s Housing First program.
  2. Begin to defund the RPS. We keep handing the police ever increasing amounts of money and nothing changes. Let’s reduce, rather than increase, the RPS operating budget by $3.4 million this year and do so annually for the foreseeable future.

The money saved can also be put into Regina’s Housing First program until Regina reaches a state of functional zero homelessness—Mayor Fougere’s goal in ending Homelessness in Regina.

 

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