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'A crisis situation': Housing issues prevalent in North Central Regina

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North Central has entered a crisis situation according to Regina’s mayor. Boarded up and abandoned residential units are on the rise as housing issues are affecting more and more people.

Demolition crews are removing the last of the rubble from the site of an explosion that rocked the neighborhood on Nov. 14.

The blast levelled a vacant government housing complex and damaged a neighbouring apartment building beyond repair.

“We have allowed a neighbourhood to basically enter a crisis situation,” Mayor Sandra Masters said.

The city points to a growing number of homes being left unattended.

“There is also an extraordinary number of abandoned and boarded up properties. That’s on us. Building housing standards are on us to enforce.”

Masters says city action is coming in the New Year.

Action that could impact the Government of Saskatchewan, which owns 3,000 vacant houses across the province with 700 in Regina.

Minister of Social Services Gene Makowsky said he has toured some of the properties.

“If something has chronically not been used for a certain amount of time for whatever reason the building is secured,” he explained.

“So windows aren’t broken or people aren’t in there and doing things we might not want them to do.”

NDP MLA Meara Conway said she believes the government is not taking advantage of the resources at their disposal.

“I know that they’ve alluded to the fact that some of them have fallen into disrepair,” she told reporters following Question Period on Monday.

“I know for a fact there are many vacant units sitting in desirable neighborhoods in fine condition because I’ve seen them myself.”

Regina resident Larissa Sellers says she tried to rent a vacant government home but was rejected because of a past dispute with a private landlord over a sump pump failure.

“I didn’t pay the rent because I got into an argument with them over that,” she explained.

As a result of the dispute, she’s been blacklisted by other landlords, including Regina Housing.

According to Conway, this situation highlights serious issues with the current system.

“[There is] absolutely no reason why she wouldn’t be a good candidate for public housing,” she said.

“So that is a huge red flag to me. This is public housing … for some people this is their last resort.”

The Government of Saskatchewan has said it is reviewing its tenant qualification policies for possible changes that could help fill vacant suites.

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