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'Positive impact on the community': Province tackling problem of vacant social housing units

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The provincial government is tackling the problem of vacant social housing units.

Hundreds sit empty across the province, many in need of repair. The government is embarking on a major renovation program to make 1,400 units available to low income renters.

An estimated 3,000 government housing units sit empty in Saskatchewan, many in total disrepair. The government will invest $83 million this year to bring nearly half of them back onto the rental market.

“So that will help and continue the work we’ve been doing to have best use of our units. We certainly have units in areas that are in high demand,” said Gene Makowsky, minister of social services.

According to statistics obtained the NDP, the provincial government owned 17,509 social housing units in 2022 and 3,161 of those were vacant.

Now, 1,400 will be repaired, primarily in Regina, Saskatoon, Prince Albert and the North. The decision is being welcomed in neighbourhoods where some of the homes are located.

“We feel this is going to be a really positive impact on the community. What we’re going to see is less boarded up properties because boarded up properties come with the potential for negative opportunities,” said Amanda Benesh, program coordinator for the Heritage Community Association.

The government decisions will go a long way toward improving the appearance of neighbourhoods.

“In the back alley and there was 15 houses that were boarded up. That’s incredible, terrible,” said Brent Dickens, a Heritage neighbourhood resident.

“I think that they prolonged the situation and they should have, you know, fixed the houses a long time ago,” said Tiffany Gagnon, another Heritage neighbourhood resident.

The rental vacancy rate in Saskatchewan’s two major centres is at two per cent or less. The government’s decision to repair and place 1,400 units back onto the market will go a long way toward relieving pressure and keeping rents reasonable.

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