Regina’s mayor says $7.8 million in federal funding for rapid housing announced Wednesday is an important step towards realizing the city’s plan to end homelessness.
“The fact of the matter is that they just injected eight times what we did just this year in a plan to end homelessness that is now five years old,” said Sandra Masters after the announcement. “It is exponentially important in the impact that can be had.”
$7.8M from feds important for realization of homelessness plan: Regina mayor
The money will create an estimated 29 new affordable homes for individuals and families in Regina, where nearly 2,000 people every year experience or are at risk of homelessness.
On any given day, 200 people in Regina are effectively homeless year round, said Masters.
“The core of human dignity is a place for shelter, that place of home,” she said. “Accessing and maintaining safe, stable housing remains a challenge for may Regina residents.”
The money comes from the federal government’s Rapid Housing Initiative (RHI). It is an addition to a previous investment of $17 million during the RHI’s first phase, which was distributed by the province. This time, money is going directly to municipalities like Regina and Saskatoon.
“I am acutely aware, having talked to city leaders here in Regina and in Saskatchewan, that it didn’t land in this province as effectively as it could have the first time around,” said Adam Vaughan, parliamentary secretary to the minister of families, children and social development, and the minister responsible for Canada Mortgage Housing Corporation (CMHC), during the announcement.
According to a news release, the first phase of the RHI provided $1 billion in October 2020 that went toward 4,700 permanent affordable housing units across Canada. That success led to an additional $1.5 billion for the RHI this year, said Vaughan.
In April, Regina city council approved a $1 million annual grant for permanent supportive housing, an increase from the originally proposed $700,000. The funding is available for community-based organizations offering housing-first programs. At the time, council also approved a motion for Masters to ask the provincial government to contribute $1.26 million annually for permanent supportive housing as recommended in the Plan to End Homelessness.
The city’s $63-million plan was revealed in June 2019. Within it, the major roles of the provincial and federal government’s in ending homelessness was highlighted. It asks for $40.5 million in funding from the provincial government and $25 million from the federal government’s National Housing Strategy in order to fund 80 new permanent supportive housing spaces, 80 new affordable housing spaces, 80 new rent supports, 100 prevention interventions, 140 new assertive community treatment spaces and 130 new intensive case management spaces.
“We just don’t do this without the federal government and federal funding into these type of programs,” said Masters on Wednesday. “We know municipal government is the closest to the people, and I really appreciate the fact that this federal government has recognized that.”
Masters said the city will work with community based organizations over the next six weeks to determine what existing projects qualify for funding to expand services.
“Because of the speed with which we’re going to need to spend the money, it will be probably either existing facilities or potentially with some small renovations to existing facilities so that we can go in and support those organizations in expanding,” she said.
Units must be built within 12 months a receiving funding.
The RHI is delivered by the CMHC and the National Housing Strategy. It is designed to help address urgent housing needs through the rapid construction of affordable housing.