Regina's Plan to Reach Functional Zero Homelessness
There are many who are understandably skeptical of plans to end homelessness. Advocates who have fought long and hard have seen various papers, reports, roundtables and committees come and go with little to show for them. Many are tired of reports and ready for action. So when we declare Regina is building a Plan to End Homelessness by reaching Functional Zero, one might make the jump in assuming this will be just like all the other efforts of the past, with little to show for it.
Here's what's different. Never before has Regina had a concrete plan that lays out timelines, costs and gaps in the system. Never before has Regina had a City Council ready to stand behind the plan. Never before has Regina had a successfully running Housing First program, along with an effective intake and assessment program for those living in homelessness. Regina has made progress over the years, and the efforts of advocates in the past have not been in vain. We have learned from those efforts and are committed to seeing this through. Regina has made progress as a city, not only in programming, but in collaboration and alignment of priorities. This Plan to End Homelessness will be successful because we are committed to seeing it through.
So what does ending homelessness mean?
Effectively. we are speaking of reaching Functional Zero.
There will always be some that fall into homelessness for a variety of reasons. Gaps in social assistance, loss of job or health, breakdown in family supports, and many other reasons contribute to this reality. Currently, there are incredible organizations supporting individuals that fall into homelessness. There aren't enough supports or resrouces, though, to ensure individuals are quickly housed and supported. Currently, there are approximately 100 people on the waiting list for Housing First supports. Regina currently has no Permanent Supportive Housing for those with high needs (addictions, mental health, etc...) who are living in homelessness, creating a long wait time for those with more moderate needs. Functional Zero means identifying those gaps and closing them.
Functional Zero means ensuring there's a system of care in place so people are housed quickly and supported in order to stay housed.
In Medicine Hat, this means that within 10 days of becoming homeless, you will be re-housed with supports in place. Red Deer has a timeline of 28 days to rehouse individuals with supports. While Functional Zero timelines are different in each City based on resources, the general idea remains consistent across the board. When someone becomes homeless, they are quickly rehoused and supported to stay housed.
Will this take more resources? You bet it will! Is there a chance we finish this Report and levels of Government refuse to contribute to the implementation of the plan? It's possible, although we've worked hard to ensure there is communication and collaboration on the front end to ensure that doesn't happen. So far, they have listened and are engaging in the process. This plan will shoot for ambitious and realistic targets. The City has already signed on and is committed to the process. The Feds have committed to continuing the Homelessness Partnering Strategy funding. It will take all levels of Government working together to ensure implementation is successful. We could reach Functional Zero right away with more resources and community will. Which is where the plan comes in. It will give us a roadmap to reaching Functional Zero in the Regina context, and it will tell us what resources are needed and how long it will take. It will give us a concrete ask for the Province and a chance to guide the Federal HPS money effectively. It will tell the City what is needed from them to support the plan and stay on track. The plan will give Private Business a way to get involved and contribute to ending homelessness. It will give Community Based Organizations a vision of what is needed to reach Functional Zero, and a chance for new projects to step in to close the gaps. Without a plan for reaching Functional Zero, we'll continue to make a dent in homelessness, but never reach the end goal of every person being housed.
A plan won't mean anything if not implemented. We're under no illusions the creation of this plan is the end of our work. It is just the beginning.