If you happen to be downtown today, and have a few minutes to spare, swing by Victoria Park. Until 6 p.m. there’s an art installation on display on the east side of the park that addresses the issue of housing and homelessness. It’s organized by Common Weal Community Arts in partnership with a whole pile of community-minded organizations and individuals.

The installation takes its name from the current vacancy rate for rental housing in Regina ie. one per cent. In their publicity release, organizers provided a few other thought-provoking figures. In the last four years, the average cost to rent a one bedroom apartment in Regina has increased 43-per cent,  and now sits at  $802 per month. For someone on social assistance, that represents 97 per cent of their monthly allowance.

For a minimum wage earner, that amount of rent, coupled with food, represents 73 per cent of their monthly income.  According to Stats Canada, the average Canadian family spends 36 percent of its income on shelter, food, and clothing. If a family spends more than 56 percent of their income on those necessities they are considered to be living below the poverty line.

And yeah, I know the weather sucks today. But at least most of us have a comfortable and safe place we’ll be able to go tonight to escape the snow, wind and cold. For a growing number of people in Regina (and Saskatchewan) that’s no longer an affordable proposition. For more info on housing and homelessness in Regina visit www.pathwaysregina.com