by Leila Beaudoin
Several of Regina’s community based groups are calling for government action on the city’s housing crisis. Representatives from Carmichael Outreach center, Rainbow Youth Centre, North Central Community Association and the Homeless Individuals and Families Information System (HIFIS) held a press conference Feb. 3 at the Carmichael Outreach center, 1925 Osler St.
The former Harvard Broadcasting building had been turned into makeshift apartments. But, due to inadequate fire safety standards, it was ordered closed, with the residents forced to evacuate.
The evicted tenants made claims against the building’s landlord, Paul Ehmann. They went to court on Feb. 2. The total amount of damages and outstanding payments by Mr. Ehmann is over $19,000.
"While Carmichael is happy for tenants at 2060 Halifax St. and (their claim), their process has opened our eyes to the rental housing (issue) in our city. Over the past two months, we have received dozens of phone calls from tenants in Regina who are dealing with similar complaints" said Shawn Fraser, director of Carmichal Outreach.
“Right now we pay people to be homeless”
Hirsh Greenberg, University of Regina researcher, said. He argued that for the amount of money spent on shelters, rehabilitation centers, food drives and other government incentives, it would be cheaper to build new housing.
He said a program similar to New York City’s Pathways to Homes – which helps clients find affordable housing – would be useful in Regina.
Rob Deglau, community coordinator of the North Central Community Association has been advocating for a provincial funded city housing facilitator for some time.
“It’s our constant battle. We have a person on staff who does nothing but deal with homelessness. I think what we need to have is some kind of conversation. I t think they need to listen to front line delivery groups to say okay here’s our problem and here’s some of our solutions,” said Rob Deglau.
Deglau compared the situation to emergency response taken after the Haitian earthquake.
“The reality is we should be opening up gymnasiums and schools, providing cots and emergency services. The amounts of people that would come in would literally be up in the thousands.”