Regina's efforts to address homelessness 'disjointed,' say advocates
'Too many people who've lost their lives for a completely preventable issue': Carmichael Outreach co-ordinator
A gathering was held in Victoria Park in Regina on Tuesday night to remember people who have lost their lives to the effects of homelessness.
Kendra Giles, program supervisor with the Phoenix HOMES Housing First program in Regina, said the majority of the program's clients cite trauma as the reason for their homelessness. There are varying sources, but trauma was a common theme amongst the people she has talked with, she said.
Giles said clients she has worked with in the past have passed away. She couldn't say exactly how many, as statistics aren't widely available for deaths of homeless people in Regina. Few cities have compiled those numbers, she said, but Regina will start in 2017.
"These are their close friends and loved ones," Giles said of those in attendance.
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Among those in attendance at the rally were community leaders such as Mayor Michael Fougere, Police Chief Evan Bray, Carmichael Outreach's Tyler Gray and Dustin Browne, executive director for the Street Culture Project.
Browne spoke of efforts in other cities which have made concentrated efforts to address homelessness, something he said is lacking in Regina.
He described the efforts in Regina as "disjointed co-operation" and lacking true unity, leadership and collaboration.
"We have a territorialism and departmentalism mentality that defeats co-operation and stands in the way of creating a single community planning to overcome this issue that plagues our city," Browne said.
With the proper allocation of resources the problem can be addressed, Browne emphasized.
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Addressing the root cause
Tyler Gray, communications, advocacy and projects co-ordinator at Carmichael Outreach, said there is no shortage of proposed solutions to homelessness throughout the country.
"The answer is you strategically invest resources in prevention as opposed to reactive services," Gray said.
Proper supports to help people avoid homelessness again, such as building positive landlord-tenant relationships, outreach programs and more availability of housing are all needed, he said.
"There's some hope for some positivity," Gray said. "But in a year where we're talking about a billion-dollar budget deficit, I guess the proof will be in the pudding."
One way or another money is being spent, Gray said, adding providing $800 for monthly rent is more efficient than spending $1,000 for a one-night hospital stay.
"There's too many people who've lost their lives for a completely preventable issue that we've just kinda been dragging our feet on dealing with."
With files from Glenn Reid