Regina is introducing a Housing First strategy to combat homelessness. The plan was unveiled today.
Housing First aims to put those experiencing homelessness into permanent housing first, and then supply additional supports as needed. Those supports include addictions counseling or access to the Food Bank. The underlying principle is that people are able to move forward in their lives once they have a house.
Homelessness Partnering and Housing First Initiatives will start a pilot project with a small team working 24/7 with individuals experiencing homelessness.
"We hope it will be a relief for them," said Pam Reimer, the organization's director. "They're going to have a home that's their home. It's not a home for them on a condition that they do this or that. It's their home to make their home."
'It's their home to make their home.' - Pam Reimer, Homelessness Partnering & Housing First
Reimer said they plan to help between 10 and 20 people, depending on how many they feel they can take on. The pilot project will assist "chronic and episodically homeless individuals." That means people who have been homeless for at least half a year, or have been homeless at least three times in the past year.
If Housing First isn't the right fit for these people they're helping, Reimer said they'll try something else.
"It might not be," she said. "There are some really good resources we have here in Regina that might be better for what they need. But if we are a good fit, then we would take them. We'd get them placed as soon as we can and start getting those supports up and going for them."
To head the project, Homelessness Partnering and Housing First are taking a big hit to the budget. They have $1 million to spend on homelessness projects throughout the year, and will allocate $400,000 to Housing First.
"Although Housing First is going to be a great one, we also don't want to lose other resources we have here in the city," Reimer said.
Reimer is hoping to have the project up and running by April 2016.