“You’re Assuming That There’s These Desperate Homeless People.”

That’s what Saskatchewan’s Social Services Minister Donna Harpauer told CBC when she was asked about the waiting list for social housing. You can read the story with that quote here. Personally, I assume* there ARE quite a few Reginans desperate for social housing, because rents have massively increased in the last, I dunno, eight years or so? And a lot of people’s income has not.  If you rent in this city, you’ve probably been hammered financially.

I have a call out to the Regina Housing Authority to find out how big the waiting list is and I’ll update this post when I find that out.

*I also assume that homelessness is not a priority for most Saskatchewan voters. I don’t believe the majority of people in this province are very concerned about poverty. I think many Saskatchewanians are afflicted with the small-C conservative tendency to blame the poor for their misfortune. I’d be happy — thrilled! — to be proved wrong.

Lost Interviews: The Anti-Poverty Mission On Housing In 2013

When I was pitching stuff for the final issue of 2013, one of the pieces I suggested was a sum up of how the housing market changed last year. This was just before the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation released their vacancy rate figures for Regina and all indications were pointing towards good news.

So before Whitworth officially signed off on what I’d be writing for that issue (which turned out to be nothing) I scurried off and did a couple interviews. In the end, that sum up of the housing market became a blurb in  January’s “Ear In Review” issue and I only had space to use two tiny quotes from over an hour’s worth of conversations.

Always bugs me to leave so much on the cutting room floor, so here’s one of those interviews I did in anticipation of a much longer housing feature.¹ It’s with Peter Gilmer of Regina’s Anti-Poverty Mission. I’ve spoken to him about housing many, many times over the last few years so it seemed appropriate to check in with him now that CHMC says that our vacancy rate has reached 1.8 per cent — up from a low of 0.6 per cent just a couple years ago.

* * * * *

Prairie Dog: So, the CMHC numbers are out and our vacancy rate is 1.8 per cent. Meanwhile, council is talking about how many new rental units are being built, city administration is talking about how the market has turned around… I guess it’s time to break out the champagne, eh?

Peter Gilmer: Well, obviously it’s cold comfort for the many people who are looking for affordable housing right now. It’s still way below the three per cent balanced market.² And the other interesting thing is that there’s always been the assumption that there’s this straight out correlation between increases in the vacancy rate and affordability. And what we see with the CMHC numbers is that while there has been improvements in terms of the vacancy rate, the actual increases in rental costs are not slowing down any. So while there might be more availability there’s still a long way to go on the affordability side. For folks like those who were recently given notice at the Viva Apartments this is cold comfort with the thought of having to look for a new affordable place when that just isn’t available.

Continue reading “Lost Interviews: The Anti-Poverty Mission On Housing In 2013”

Regina Leads Nation In Rent Increases 2003-2013

City of ReginaCrunching Canadian Mortgage & Housing Corporation data is something Paul Dechene usually does for Prairie Dog. But he’s knee-deep in Christmas with his family so I’ll do the honours this time.

A couple of days ago a post appeared on BuzzBuzzHome by Monica Warzecha that examines shifts in the residential rent market in major Canadian cities over the last 10 years. It turns out that in that time, Regina had the largest increase. The figures are for a two bedroom apartment, and between 2003 and 2013 rent in Regina jumped from $589 a month to $1018 a month for an overall increase of 72.84 per cent. Edmonton and Calgary registered the second and third largest increases over the past decade at 58 and 52.2 per cent respectively.

If you check Warzecha’s post, you’ll find data on vacancy rates and actual rents as well. As of 2013, Montreal’s boasts the lowest average rent among Canadian cities at $730 a month. Rents in Winnipeg and Halifax are also below $1000 a month. At the top end of the scale, Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto have the highest monthly rents for a two bedroom apartment ($1281, $1224 and $1213 respectively).