The Saskatchewan government announced late last month that it will be adding new affordable housing supply, but officials on the ground noted that issues with red tape remain.
As a response to Saskatoon’s in-need individuals reaching out to the city’s homeless hub for help, the provincial government said that it is contemplating granting organizations access to the 2,000 empty units held by the Saskatchewan Housing Corporation (SHC).
“People who normally wouldn’t be seen as rough sleepers, or sleeping on the street, are now in that circumstance because of COVID-19,” COVID-19 Community Response Team member Colleen Christopherson-Cote told Global News.
Amid the pandemic that has brought economies around the world to their knees, a lack of readily available low-cost housing has been the running theme across Canada over the last few weeks.
New figures from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) indicated that national housing starts shrunk by 7.3% month-over-month in March, falling to 195,174 units from the 210,574 reading last February.
However, while Saskatoon’s homeless hub has since been granted permission to 10 hotel rooms and 10 units, access to said housing remains less than optimal.
“The strategy isn’t operational,” Christopherson-Cote explained. “Most of the SHC units are unfurnished, so people can’t move in.”
“Folks that we’re trying to house have complex medical and mental health needs,” she added. “And so we need to ensure that the services and supports for them are wrapped around them so that they stay isolated in these places and we don’t create further harm to them.”