Regina community groups, federal NDP call for housing strategy
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Several housing-focused Regina community groups and the federal housing critic MP Marjolaine Boutain-Sweet called on all levels of government to help find a tangible housing solution for the city.
The community groups, under the banner Roof-Ready Regina Re-visited, want the city to come up with a 10-year plan to combat homelessness—similar to those in Saskatoon, Calgary and Edmonton—with yearly goals to meet.
"People are making the hard choice between food and rent, and they are coming out as the loser and we have winter approaching" said Marc Spooner, an associate professor at the University of Regina who specializes in housing issues.
"We desperately need more housing that is geared towards low income people and we need it now."
In the first two years, they are hoping to get an additional 500 low-income suites for the city.
They claim that since taking office, Mayor Michael Fougere has lost sight of the housing issue, instead focusing on the upcoming wastewater treatment plant referendum, and that the summit held earlier this year was not enough.
"We've known about this problem for the last six years. The time is now to act. We don't need any more plans or any more summits, what we need is action," said Spooner.
Within the last year, the vacancy rate has gone up from .6 to 1.9, but the groups say these are not houses that are affordable for low-income people.
The group was joined by federal housing critic NDP MP Boutain-Sweet who wants to create a national housing strategy—a thought that was crushed by the federal conservative party earlier this year. She says we are the only G8 country to not to have a nation-wide strategy to end homelessness.
"Its not sexy to the population and its easy to ignore, but its basic. Housing determines so many other things" said Boutain-Sweet, who is in the province on the NDP's national tour.
"Spending in social housing or affordable housing, which may be an expense, is a long term investment because there are so many aspects that won't be needed as much... talking about health, prison - you can save money elsewhere if you have housing."
Other groups present at the event included officials from Carmichael Outreach, Queen City Tenants Association, Regina Anti-Poverty Ministry, Making Peace Vigil and the Regina People Project.