Several Regina organizations are joining forces under the 20,000 Homes Campaign to try to end homelessness in the city.
The campaign was launched in front of city hall on a chilly Tuesday morning. It’s a national initiative to find housing for 20,000 of the country’s most vulnerable homeless people by July 2018.
Separately, organizations such as the YWCA, YMCA and the Phoenix Residential Society all do work like this already.
They’ve already managed to help people like Kenton Weisgerber, who was homeless and had addictions issues.
Weisgerber said being able to get off the street after he was in detox was a big help.
“Being able to have a place of my own, and a safe place to go, and not have to worry about if I’m going to eat, if I’m going to have to sleep outside – these are the main things that have impacted my life.”
Now, under the 20,000 Homes Campaign, those organizations will work together to help people get off the street.
Hillary Aitken is the senior director of housing at the YWCA. She said the keys are the co-ordinated approach and having a plan.
“Community agencies working together to have a coordinated intake so we are talking to the same people and figuring out what they need. And then at the other end, we’re working to create affordable, supported and permanent housing for those people to go to.”
Aitken gave an example of how it will work.
“If the YW does an intake and Phoenix has a house that would work for them, then we can get them off the list.”
The first step is getting people on a list so the organizations know who needs what. That’s what registration week later this month, Nov. 21-27, is about.
The Phoenix Residential Society has already started a list and said it has 96 people listed already. Aitken expected to end up with 150 to 200 names on the list in the short-term.
The group is also looking for more organizations to join in their cause, along with the City. The media event was held outside City Hall as they were calling on the city to work with those agencies who serve the homeless, and to create and implement a 10-year plan to end homelessness.
Mayor Michael Fougere joined the event shortly after it started. During the municipal election, Fougere made ending homelessness a main plank of his campaign and he talked about it again during the swearing in Monday night.
Fougere said the city is already chairing the committee for the Housing First Program and it is already using grants and exemptions to spur the building of affordable homes.
Fougere said he’s looking for a date to end homelessness, but the first step is to talk, consult and come back with a plan.
“This plan we’re talking about today is ending it, say, in 10 years from now – that may be the right number, that may be the right time period. I’d hope it would be sooner than that, but it’s a starting point for discussion.”
Tuesday morning was the first Fougere said he’d heard about the 20,000 Homes Campaign, but he said there’s a lot of good will and good ideas in it, and said the city would take a look at it.
Fougere was also encouraged by the groups who came together under this campaign.
“It can’t be done without partners, without our community partnerships, and agencies like Phoenix Group who’ve done a great job to focus attention on this as well.”
Regina’s first-ever homeless count in May 2015 found there were 232 homeless people in the city – 204 in emergency shelters, transitional housing and detox, and 28 on the street.