The city hosted a housing summit this week, which the mayor described as a ground breaking event. Fougere expects over 200 participants in the housing summit, and sees it as a chance to debate how to provide more affordable housing in the city. Regina plans to improve vacancy rates in the city from the current 1 percent, up to 3 percent by 2017.
One of Fougere’s main projects is already in development. Regina is revitalizing the downtown core with eight bachelor-style apartment buildings that are expected to be completed in December. The rent for these units isn’t expected to exceed $450 per month, and the city plans to rent the units out to younger residents.
Fougere describes the development as a partnership between all levels of government, and sees it as an outline for future housing projects. The mayor’s pride in the development is echoed by Malcolm Neill, a spokesman for the Ranch Ehrlo Society. Neill believes that while Canada, and Saskatchewan in particular, is recovering from the recession, young people continue to struggle with fewer job and housing opportunities.
“Right now many of them are couch-surfing, living in overcrowded housing, or homeless, and staying in shelters.”
A housing advocacy group in neighbouring Alberta led by Tim Richter also participated in the Regina housing summit. Richter describes Regina’s new approach to housing as a similar path to the one Calgary took in the early 1990s. He believes the city will solve its other social problems, like addictions and unemployment, by first investing in affordable housing.
“Once you get them into an apartment they can begin to deal with all that other stuff from the safety and stability of a home.”