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'Not bad people': Regina's homeless dejected after permanent shelter plan scrapped by council

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People in need of housing are feeling dejected by Regina city council’s decision to scrap opening a permanent emergency shelter near the corner of Albert Street and Dewdney Avenue.

Those in need of the shelter believe council’s opposition to the facility was driven by fear and misunderstanding.

“It makes us kind of upset that we’re not welcome anywhere. I mean we’re not bad people, just kind of had a hard time with our lives,” shelter resident Toby Kelsch said.

Council voted against establishment of a permanent shelter after facing neighborhood opposition.

“We look a bit rough because we don’t shower as much and we don’t eat as much as everybody else but we are decent people,” Kelsch said.

Audrey Kaiswatum is living in emergency housing at the YWCA. She feels supported but is concerned about the message sent by city council’s decision.

“People are just throwing us aside and saying just forget about them and so we’re hurting each other you know and that’s what really hurts,” Kaiswatum said.

City council got involved with providing emergency shelter after a tent community formed in Pepsi Park in 2021. Shylo Stevenson, a community support worker with Queen City Wellness Pharmacy, was among those who provided support to the residents.

“Two and a half years ago we were in tents. Now we are in shelters and I think that’s the way we need to continue. A tent is not a home,” Stevenson said.

He feels a permanent emergency shelter is crucial but also believes other forms of supports must come with it.

“So we put somebody that’s been around hundreds of people on the street and we put them into a house all alone so they get lost in their thoughts and relapse or have those slips and that’s where these wrap around supports, so dealing with their mental health and their addiction at the same time as houselessness is key.”

The proposed permanent shelter location was kept under wraps almost until the last minute and that’s why some feel the plan failed.

According to the city, council has instructed administration to continue their search for a permanent emergency shelter location and provide council with a status update by Oct. 9 of this year. 

Those supporting the unhoused recommend that community consultation be part of selecting a new location.

A current temporary shelter is set to close in July of 2025 with no chance of renewing the lease.

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