September 5th, 2012
Homelessness Awareness Week in Regina
Souls Harbor Executive Director Joe Miller is hoping to raise some awareness this week.
He’ll be living on the roof of Souls Harbor until Friday. His goal is to raise enough money to pay for 2000 nights of shelter.
With the Saskatchewan economy booming, Miller said more people are coming to Regina looking for work.
What Does Miller Think about Regina?
“Our economy is strong, really strong, but the cost of living has gone up,” said Miller.
According to CMHC, an average one-bedroom apartment was $770 in 2011. In 2012 the average cost is $817.
What Does Miller Want?
Miller thinks more affordable housing is needed.
“We need landlords, we need the Saskatchewan government, we need private enterprise to come up and say: it’s okay to charge less than market value,” he said.
The Saskatchewan government currently offers a rental supplement for low-income earners, but only after they’ve found a place to live. The city’s vacancy rate is at a nation-low 0.6 per cent.
“It’s okay to be profitable for a little less. We need to help out the people that are around us. The homeless people are our invisible neighbors’.” said Miller.
In 2010, almost 1500 people stayed in one of Regina’s shelters, staying for an average of about 56 days. Over 80 per cent of people left the shelter they were staying at without having anywhere else to go.
Joey Reynolds and Homelessness
Joey Reynolds isn’t homeless right now, but he has been before.
“When you’re a street person, you’re poor. You’re always on that verge of homelessness,” said Reynolds.
Right now he has a place, but his landlord is selling the building soon. Reynolds isn’t sure what he’s going to do. He said he has considered moving away.
“I like to live in Regina, but the housing here is just horrible. And we need affordable housing,” said Reynolds.`
Why Not Lobby to Encourage More Private Landlords to Invest?
That’s our recommendation. The government can increase the supply of affordable housing by creating incentives for more people to invest. More supply equals more choices for tenants.
The worst path to go is what they are doing in Ontario where landlords are punished for providing affordable housing.
We think Joe Miller’s goals are admirable. However, his ideas on how to achieve his goals are not the way to best move forward. If he wants more affordable housing in Regina, the answer is to get more Regina landlords investing.