NDP raising concerns about skyrocketing social housing vacancy rates

Newly released documents from the Saskatchewan Housing Corporation, released by the Saskatchewan NDP, show that vacancy rates for social housing have skyrocketed under the Saskatchewan Party government.

Social housing vacancy rates have increased from seven percent in 2012 to 18 percent in 2022, with 3,161 vacant units.

In Regina, that number is even steeper, with Queen City seeing its vacancy rate for social housing increase from four percent in 2012 (116 vacant units) to 23 percent (691 vacant units) in 2022.

Official Opposition Leader Carla Beck said with more and more families and people struggling to find housing, the Government needs to step up.

“Here in Regian, we see a tent city on the front steps of City Hall. It’s clear in communities large and small that people need help,” she said. “They need a government that recognizes their growing pressures and a government that acts swiftly to address those pressures. Instead, we see a government that is doing exactly the opposite.”

Beck said the rise in homelessness and housing insecurity is the direct result of a decade of Sask. Party mismanagement.

“What Scott Moe and the Sask. Party need to do is stop pointing fingers at local mayors, and they need to start looking in the mirror,” she said. “This is a government that’s been in power for almost 20 years, and this housing crisis has a government that won’t work with municipal partners, with housing agencies, won’t work with the very people who are trying to keep roofs over their heads.”

She said it’s clear that this Government isn’t willing to do the work to solve the problem.

“It’s a government that looks like they don’t want to do their day job. They don’t want to do the hard work of actually governing and finding solutions to these problems,” Beck said.

“It’s not just those folks who are on the front lawn of City Hall. It’s not just the Offical Opposition,” she continued. “You’ve seen mayors from across this province, large and small centres, say that they need the government to be at the table finding a solution to this issue.”

Beck said the Sask. Party is also wasting taxpayers’ money by letting thousands of social housing units sit vacant.

“These are around a billion dollars of public assets that are being mismanaged by the Sask. Party government,” she said. “A billion dollars of assets that should be providing safe, affordable housing to seniors, families, to folks on low income in this province, but they’re sitting vacant.”

Opposition Housing Critic Meara Conway said that the Sask. Party government doesn’t have a plan to fix “their mess”.

“We have a tent city here in Regina and more across the province, while these publicly owned units sit empty, neglected, vacant, collecting dust,” she said. “What these recently obtained documents demonstrate is a clear and ongoing failure by the Sask. Party government on the housing front.”

Conway said over the 17 years, the Sask. Party has been in power; they have failed to obtain additional units and maintain the units they already have to meet the province’s needs.

“The lack of a plan is directly contributing to the homelessness crisis we’re seeing across the province,” she said. “These documents show that if we connect the dots and we can draw a direct line between what is happening on the front steps of City Hall to the provincial legislature.”

Conway added that part of the issue is the criteria for residents to apply with in addition to the neglect of the vacant units and an actual housing plan.

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