The case for ending homelessness: YWCA Regina

How many people are homeless in Regina? Is homelessness a serious issue in Regina?

  • A research study in Regina in 2011 showed that over the course of three years, there were “4500 different individuals and/or individuals and/or transitional shelters for at least one day and on average for 56 days” (Vracar, 2013).

  • Research suggests that the numbers of Regina residents who are the “hidden homeless” – couch- surfing, staying in hotels, or in short-term institutional care – could be double or triple that of the absolute homelessness (Vracar, 2013).

  • The “Point in Time” count conducted over a 24-hour period in May 2015 showed 232 individuals as homeless. However, this study failed to capture information from public institutions such as hospitals, hotels, and jails.

  • The Regina Point in Time Count results showed that 75% of survey respondents self-identified as Aboriginal, yet represent 9.3% of the total population of Regina city residents.

  • Women’s homelessness is different from men’s. Women are more likely to live on low incomes, live to old age, live with children, and lose housing due to violence (YWCA Canada, 2016). Women may stay in unsafe or unaffordable situations in order to have shelter.

  • Many other Regina residents are on the edge of homelessness: according to the City of Regina, 1 in 10 rental housing units in the city require major repairs (Vracar, 2013). Almost 45% of Regina renters are spending more than 30% of their income on rental shelter costs, leading to higher housing instability and greater risk of homelessness (Vital Signs, 2016).

  • Emergency shelters in Regina all remain fully occupied. For example, My Aunt’s Place, YWCA’s shelter for homeless women and their children, provided shelter for 769 women and children in 2015, but turned away 570 women and 458 children due to lack of space. 

What are the impacts of homelessness?
  • Homelessness represents a substantial financial cost to our city, both in the direct costs of shelters and support services, but also indirect costs in terms of policing, health services, and criminal justice. “In a 2005 study which looked at costs in four Canadian cities, institutional responses (jails, hospitals etc.) cost $66,000-$120,000 annually, emergency shelters cost $13,000-$42,000 annually whereas supportive and transitional housing cost $13,000-$18,000 and affordable housing without supports was a mere $5,000-$8,000.” (Gaetz et al, 2016)

  • This does not begin to recognize the economic benefits that are lost when someone is unable to work or contribute to a revenue base.

  • Furthermore, a study from Europe states that there may be detrimental impact to tourism and trade from homelessness (Pleace et al, 2013). We all know that we want to show visitors to our city the welcoming, safe, healthy community that Regina really can be.

  • Housing can act as a “policy fusion issue”. It is the first step towards improved health, safety, positive child development, and economic development in a community. 

What is 20,000 Homes? 

  • More than twelve Regina community organizations have come together to join the 20,000 Homes campaign: a national movement of communities focused on housing the 20,000 most vulnerable Canadians by July 2018.

  • There are three key aims for 20,000 Homes Regina:
    a. Data: creating a list of people in need of housing, including their name and what kind of services they need;

    b. Collaboration: working together as a community to create a coordinated intake system and to provide a spectrum of supports;

    c. Action: setting clear goals and taking the action required to ensure that Regina’s most vulnerable citizens have a home

  •   20,000 Homes operates with a Housing First philosophy: working to provide a safe, affordable home for everyone, but then matching each person with comprehensive supports in order to ensure they remain housed and move towards independence, empowerment, and autonomy.

  •   20,000 Homes is just the first step. We are building the foundation for a comprehensive, multi-year, targeted plan to end homelessness in Regina.