Critical aid needed in housing crisis
Homelessness is a growing issue in Regina, and after a tent fire in December, more people are asking how the City of Regina will address the issue of homelessness in 2023.
On the 1800 block of Halifax Street on December 13, a fire broke out in a local tent community. The residents were forced to flee, leaving the little possessions they had to burn. The Regina Fire Department was called, and they were able to control the fire, leaving the makeshift tent site in ashes. It started from a nearby garage explosion and quickly spread to the small community. Many organizations around Regina opened their doors to any of the victims affected by the fire, but none were reported to have shown up.
This fire was devastating to the local community and brought up questions relating to homelessness in Regina. Many people pointed to the fact the ‘5-Year-End Episodic and Chronic Homelessness’ plan did not have the effect that they hoped.
“The three measures identified by stakeholders are giving everyone access to service when they need it,” stated the document. “Homelessness being rare, brief, or non-occurring, and having services increasingly coordinated.” Regina community members have cited these promises as not being effective, and the issue of homelessness not being anywhere near gone.
One of the newer developments the city has invested in is warming buses, with the purpose of warm the homeless population. While obviously warming buses are not a long-term fix, the City of Regina is using it as a first step.
In November 2018, the City of Regina launched the warming bus stations. The bus operates every night on the 1600 block of 11th Avenue, running from 9 p.m. to 9 a.m. This venture at first was greeted with support, with people and organizations often bringing warm food and drinks for people on board.
But in January, these warming stations took a turn that is worrying community members. Signs were displayed that disallowed outsiders from bringing food or drinks in for the people inside.
“We could not safely and fairly distribute food donations or provide a healthy space for food consumption,” responded the City of Regina when this issue was brought up. They stated that the bus was meant to be a warm overnight space, which is not meant to provide the same services as a homeless shelter.
The City of Regina also cited the fact that, to deal effectively with the homelessness situation in Regina that’s estimated to take approximately $63 million to be funded, they would need to charge each homeowner $40 every month in 2023, and $11 every month in 2024.
Large and small organizations have been continuing to work hard to provide food and shelter for people experiencing homelessness, but many say it’s not enough. There are 488 homeless people in Regina according to the 2021 census, and many are looking at the City of Regina to deploy a sustainable and effective plan soon.