Saskatchewan

Regina 'housing crisis' spurs rent control call

A group advocating for the rights of tenants living in Regina rental properties is hoping to find ways to improve low vacancy rates and deal with high rents — factors it says are contributing to a "housing crisis" in the city.

A group advocating for the rights of tenants living in Regina rental properties is hoping to find ways to relieve low vacancy rates and high rents — factors it says are contributing to a "housing crisis" in the city.

The Regina Tenants' Association (RTA) held its inaugural meeting this weekend. The group aims to become the sounding board and lobby group for renters.

Already, the association is planning to urge government to impose rent controls on landlords, despite criticism that capping rents could stifle construction of new rental homes and apartments.

"Having rent control doesn't scare away investors, doesn't scare new building of apartments and housing units," said RTA founder Angelica Barth-Burkholder.

"The literature doesn't reflect that, so we need rent controls as one of a group of tools to bring this housing crisis to an end," she said.

The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation recently reported the vacancy rate in Regina was 0.8 per cent, and that in the year prior to April 2010, rents in Regina shot up by 7.1 per cent.

The meeting heard stories of lives spent couch surfing or residing in halfway houses because homes are so difficult to find.

"I'm almost 34 years old but I have to live with my mother because even with a full-time, minimum-wage job, I can't afford a place that social workers will approve my children living in and still be able to feed them," said Daniel Johnson, a father of two.

In addition to its lobbying efforts, the RTA is also hoping to find one representative for each of the city's apartment blocks.

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