Housing Services

Mayors Urge Review of Saskatchewan’s Social Housing System Amidst High Vacancy Rates

In a collective effort to address the pressing issue of housing stability, mayors from Saskatchewan’s cities have joined forces, calling for a comprehensive review of the province’s social housing program. The primary focus of this initiative is to scrutinize eligibility criteria and maximize the utilization of existing affordable housing units. The urgency of this call is underscored by the alarming number of vacant affordable housing units across the province, leaving municipal leaders concerned and motivated to enact change.

The Imperative of Stable Housing

“Stable housing is a basic need,” declares Mayor Gerald Aalbers, Chair of SUMA’s City Mayors’ Caucus. With over 3,000 affordable housing units sitting vacant throughout Saskatchewan, mayors emphasize the critical role stable housing plays in individual well-being and community health. The initiative aims not only to fill these chronically vacant units but to address the root causes contributing to housing instability.

Mayoral Concerns and Collaborative Solutions

Mayors, including Mitch Hippsley of Yorkton, express surprise and concern over the high number of empty homes. Mayor Hippsley stresses the need for accurate data on housing vacancies to comprehend the scope of the issue. However, he emphasizes that resolving housing challenges requires collaboration between municipalities and the provincial government. Acknowledging that housing is not solely a municipal responsibility, Mayor Hippsley emphasizes the importance of supporting the provincial government with the necessary data.

Rising Homelessness and Future Challenges

The rise in homelessness in Saskatchewan, attributed to escalating rents and financial struggles among low-income individuals and families, adds urgency to the mayors’ call for action. Mayor Hippsley anticipates the situation worsening as the provincial government aims to increase the population by 200,000 over the next five years, potentially necessitating an additional 100,000 homes. As rents climb amid a tightening housing market, the impact on low-income residents becomes more pronounced, resulting in an increase in housing-related challenges reported by city mayors.

Caucus Review and Urgent Recommendations

The City Mayors’ Caucus, convened on June 24, thoroughly examined the Social Housing Program in Saskatchewan. Urging the Ministry of Social Services and the Saskatchewan Housing Corporation to conduct a comprehensive review in collaboration with municipalities, mayors aim to optimize the use of housing units. The ultimate goal is to enhance housing stability for low-income families, seniors, and individuals with disabilities across the province.

Addressing Mental Health and Addiction Concerns

Mayor Aalbers, also Vice-President of Cities for SUMA, highlights mental health and addiction as major concerns for Saskatchewan’s city mayors. Recognizing the interconnection between housing stability and these broader societal challenges, the initiative seeks to address the mental health and addiction crisis by ensuring that individuals in need have access to suitable and affordable accommodations.

The call for a comprehensive review of Saskatchewan’s social housing system reflects a collective commitment to tackle housing instability head-on. By fostering collaboration between municipalities and the provincial government, this initiative seeks to create meaningful change, ensuring that safe and affordable housing is accessible to all residents. Through this united front, mayors aim to improve overall well-being and contribute to the resolution of pressing social issues in the province.

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