Saskatchewan

'No cheques written' 7 months after release of $63M plan to end homelessness in Regina

Terin Kennedy says no money has been allocated for the implementation of a $63 million, five-year plan to end homelessness inRegina, more than seven months after it was announced.

Terin Kennedy says 'hidden homelessness' means there could be as many as 3,000 homeless people in Regina

Harley Klippenstine stands in the empty lot he and others had used for a camp in October 2016. There were 286 homeless people recorded during the last homeless count in 2018 but Terin Kennedy said there could be as many as 3,000 homeless people in the City of Regina. (Dean Gutheil/CBC)

Terin Kennedy says no money has been allocated for the implementation of a $63-million, five-year plan to end homelessness in Regina, more than seven months after it was announced.

The plan — Everyone is Home:  A Five-Year Plan to End Chronic and Episodic Homelessness in Regina — was written by advocates and researchers and released in June 2019. 

"There's a lot of people on board but as of yet, no cheques have been written," Kennedy, executive director of End Homelessness Regina, said Tuesday.

"The money is in the system already. It's just re-aligning those funds with what's asked for in the plan."

The plan was designed to provide long-term housing arrangements to homeless people while also connecting them with social and health supports.

There hasn't been much progress since the plan was announced and a request for proposals put out, Kennedy added.

Terin Kennedy speaks at the unveiling of Regina's Plan to End Homelessness. Since the plan was announced in June, no cheques have been written to actually implement the plan, Kennedy told CBC on Tuesday. (Matt Howard/CBC)

There were 286 people counted in the 2018 homeless count, but that count didn't add homeless people who might have been couch surfing on the day of.

Kennedy said the number of hidden homelessness in Regina could mean there are as many as 3,000 homeless people in the city.

Tuesday was also the date of an annual homeless vigil, intended to honour those who have lost their lives while homeless, in Regina's City Square Plaza.

Kennedy said she would like preventative measures in place when addressing homelessness, which means tackling the root causes of homelessness like injury, poverty or addiction.

Brain injuries, mental health issues and cognitive disabilities are some issues which go hand-in-hand with chronic homelessness, according to Kendra Giles, the innovative programs housing manager at the Phoenix Residential Society in Regina.

Her organization has seen more than 1,000 people walk through the doors and identify themselves as homeless since 2016, Giles said. About 250 of them received housing during that time and the wait list continues to grow.

"The lack of places to refer them to is still an ongoing issue," Giles said.

Regina attaining functional zero homelessness involves getting someone immediately rehoused if they once again become homeless, according to Dustin Browne of Street Culture Project.

Street Culture Project is a non-profit which helps youth with aid like housing assisting or support through other programs like mentorship.

"The transition of aging out [of social services care] is often an introduction into homeless for a lot of people and we see that as a number one barrier and producer of homelessness," Browne said.

Browne said there is no stable housing without mental health and addictions supports available to the person.

Saskatoon counted 475 homeless people in the city in 2018, while a Prince Albert count found 47.

With files from Sam Maciag and CBC Radio's Blue Sky

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