The story of Regina’s homeless is being told in a documentary and a final report that hopes to influence change.
The film titled “In Plain View” follows the point-in-time homeless count that was done on a night in May. It puts a face on some of the 232 people that were found living without a home in the city.
“You sort of know it’s a problem and you know these are people but then when you get down and talk to them and sort of do a deep dive in a survey, it sort of changes your perspective,” said John Bailey, general manager of community development at the YMCA.
Although less than a third of the homeless agreed to take part in the survey, it starts to show who they are, where they come from and how they ended up on the streets and in shelters.
“Every person who experiences homelessness is a unique person,” said Bailey.
The count reveals 77 per cent of those who responded identify as being aboriginal. However, all respondents who were living on the street that night identify as aboriginal, compared to 70 per cent of those staying in facilities like shelters and transitional housing.
When participants were asked how old they were when they first experienced homelessness, 32.8 per cent were under the age of 18.
The survey also took a look at what is preventing people from keeping a place.
The top five reasons are:
- Rent is too high (43.9%)
- Low income (25.8%)
- Other reasons (22.7%)
- Family breakdown (15.2%)
- Poor housing conditions (15.2%)
This report will now be used as a starting point to help develop a plan to help end homelessness, conduct future counts and monitor how the numbers change over time.
The plan is to move toward a “Housing First” program to combat homelessness. That’s the same successful strategy used in cities like Medicine Hat which has all but ended street homelessness. It’s as simple as providing them a home, which ends up being cheaper in the long run than the cost of having them living a dangerous lifestyle on the street.
Bailey explains the challenge is setting up a support system to ensure they become successful.
“Because otherwise, you’re just sort of pushing the can down the road and they’ll experience homelessness again.”