One year after its launch, Housing First in Regina is being touted as a success.
The program is run in partnership with the YMCA, the Circle Project and Phoenix HOMES – housing and other case management and engagement services.
It provides vulnerable people a roof over their and the support they need.
Since the program launched, detox visits for the 26 people involved have decreased by 91 per cent, emergency room visits are down 79 per cent and hospital admission went down 58 per cent.
That, along with fewer calls to police for service and arrests, led to savings of $1,923,070 in health care and enforcement costs.
One of the program’s success stories is Kenton Weisgerber.
In the span of one day, nearly two years ago, he said he lost his job, home and roommate.
“I ended up putting myself in a position where I had no stability,” Weisgerber said. “At that point, I started to couch-surf and stay with people and not really have anywhere where I could call a safe place and all the time dealing with an addiction.”
He said being homeless led to an awareness of the simple things he once took for granted.
“Losing the ability to bathe every day. Losing the ability to have a glass of water without having to go look around for a water fountain,” he said.
According to Weisgerber, vulnerable people have to keep moving around when they’re homeless because people don’t want them loitering or taking up public space.
He said securing shelter through Phoenix HOMES helped him gain confidence and self-worth.
He’s now working towards a bachelor’s degree in business and going to counselling to combat addiction.