January 13, 2016 8:33 am
Updated: January 13, 2016 7:38 pm

Regina YMCA introduce homelessness reduction strategy, Housing First

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REGINA – The YMCA of Regina unveiled the details of Regina’s Housing First Strategy Wednesday morning. The plan was described as a way to take “concrete action” to address homelessness.

At its core Housing First is about setting up homeless individuals in homes. The organization said this can create a better environment to address contributing issues like addiction and mental health.

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The strategy will officially begin in April, and one of the main objectives for the first foundation-building year is finding three to five partner landlords to help house the individuals.

In Regina, there were 232 homeless people in May 2015, based on the Point-in-Time Count of homelessness conducted last year.

“We know there’s landlords here that we had participate in our community consultations that are excited about the idea of Housing First,” said Blair Roberts, Director of Homelessness Partnering and Residence at the YMCA.

Roberts added that he wants to wait for agreements to be finalized before discussing the identities of potential partner landlords.

The City of Regina has worked closely with the YMCA in developing the strategy, and Mayor Michael Fougere says this partnership will continue going forward.

“Certainly those who are least able to take care of themselves, or are living on the street need support and need to improve their lives,” he said. “The idea is relatively new where you provide housing for someone, and then deal the particular circumstance, be it addiction or mental health issues, is a very creative and powerful way to address the issue.”

According to data gathered in the report, most people in Housing First programs in other cities reach the final stage, living with self-sufficiency, in 12 to 18 months.

The YMCA is a local leader in the federal Homelessness Partnering Strategy (HPS). Each year Regina receives approximately one million dollars in HPS funding. Forty per cent of this is to be set aside for Housing First funding – roughly $400,000.

Wednesday also marked the launch of the HPS Call for Proposals. Community groups have until Feb. 16 at 5 p.m. to submit funding requests. They can either do it independently or as a potential Housing First partner agency. Applications can be found at reginahomelessness.ca.

Goals outlined for the first year of the program include creating a Housing First Team to lead the strategy, developing a network of support through consultations, developing short and long term measures to ensure performance-based decision making, and making sure recommendations on Housing First are doable and effective in reducing homelessness in Regina.

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