'A huge change in their lives': Agency says housing first strategy making strides toward ending homelessness
Regina program to provide safe, secure homes estimated to lead to a $2.2M cost savings
An ambitious effort to end homelessness in Regina is bringing about a "huge change" in people's lives, as well as millions in savings, thanks to the housing first strategy, according to one partner in the initiative.
Kendra Giles works with the lead organization running the housing first program in Regina, the Phoenix Residential Society.
The program has provided homes for some of the city's most vulnerable people, who had been living on the streets for a long time, cycling through jail cells, hospitals and detox centres.
"That's where they would spend their days and nights," she said. "Seeing where they were a couple years ago to today has been a huge change in their lives."
Housing first is a model that focuses on first providing stable housing for the homeless, followed by making individualized supports and services available.
Since the city's housing first program began in 2016, it's provided 49 people with housing, with the overall cost savings estimated at over $2.2 million, though a reduction in costs for policing, hospital services and more.
According to Phoenix Residential Society and the Regina Homelessness Community Advisory Board, a community oversight board, the cost savings break down as follows:
But Giles said the organization has also measured success in other ways, through quality of life surveys of program participants.
"That's where we get the biggest measure of success, just being alongside people's journey, to see where they are from the beginning to where they are in the end," she said.
Giles said with more evidence of the program's success, she's hoping to welcome more partners and agencies to join and expand its program offerings.
"It's the entire community it's going to take to end homelessness," she said.
"The more people we can have on board with that mindset and with that philosophy in mind on how we can do it … the better."