With improved health and social outcomes so drastic, it’s really unethical for governments to deny Housing First to some people, while providing it to some others.
Coinciding with the 5 Days for the Homeless charity fundraiser, was another event at the University of Regina Friday afternoon. I caught the last half of it for you, and there were some really interesting comments from the audience and panel members.
When they were mentioning food banks, I felt like pointing out how grocery stores in Regina compact their trash, which actually contains hundreds of pounds of unexpired and edible food. The Food Bank didn’t usually send volunteers to pick up surplus bread products from a local grocery store (before it closed permanently 2 years ago).
City Council last night voted to limit their regulation of what were known as Owner Occupied “rooming houses” to those places rented out for fewer than 30 days. This restores the status quo Regina has experienced for more than a decade, as people felt free to rent to room-mates without licenses (while they were technically in violation of a bylaw that could put them in jail for a year for doing so!). Now there will be no more bylaw restricting this sort of use in a private dwelling, so hopefully housing supply will not suffer.
Here’s one delegation filed:
Mayor and Council,
I would like to recommend that the Rooming House definition be dropped from the city bylaws. I was an international student from Thailand but now am a permanent resident of Canada studying at the University of Regina and know many other international students that have come here from abroad to study.
For many students living in a Rooming House have been a necessity based on price of rent and availability of housing. I have known several students that have lived in a home with the homeowner and it has always been a good situation for them.
Removal of this bylaw definition will allow many of my friends to stay living where they are and carrying on with their studies.
To be read to City Council Tuesday evening:
Good evening Your Worship, and Councillors:
Months ago I was prepared to deliver a different delegation on the subject of the Rooming House bylaw, where I would have asked you to repeal the bylaw so my friend would not be under threat of jail time for sharing space in his home with other Regina residents. I’m very pleased to instead say I support the recommendations from the Administration in their report on Homestays, and ask you to vote in favour of it.
ADDED: The video and questions and answers. Links to the parking studies requested by Councillor Young are in the Video description.
Good evening Mr. Mayor, and City Council,
I’m John Klein, here to represent myself, and to appeal to you to repeal the Rooming House bylaw from 1992 that appeared in the news suddenly in April and May 2013 for being enforced upon unsuspecting homeowners around the city. One of those people is my friend Adam. Please don’t send my friend to jail, or fine him any amount of money, for simply living in a home where he rents bedrooms to a very reasonable number of roommates.
The rental housing situation in Regina has been dire for a number of years as you all well know. This 21 year old law’s time has long since passed, and should be repealed before it has a further chilling effect on the number of rooms being made available for rent. The enforcement attempt this Spring was bad enough, sowing fear and confusion into the lives of people already struggling to afford safe housing.
The only market solution for the affordability of housing in our city is for the housing supply to increase, or the demand to drop. Assuming that you’re aiming at increasing the population in Regina by more than 100% within the next 25 years, obviously demand is not set to drop. Therefore your bylaws should make it lawful for housing to increase in a safe and organized manner.
Adam’s home is safe, organized, and does not need the City breaking it up with an outdated and counterproductive bylaw. The bylaw outlawing Rooming Houses, or what would more commonly today be referred to as simply a “shared house”, is not needed. It’s a very normal thing to do, and if you’re an average young person in Regina, (which indelicately I’ll point out does not describe anyone sitting on Council) you cannot afford a mortgage without either marrying or otherwise sharing the cost with others (renters).
Besides harassing responsible, tax paying homeowners, couldn’t this Rooming Houses bylaw also inhibit people’s ability to open up their homes to visitors during Grey Cup? I’m opposed to a bylaw that restricts a homeowner’s freedom to open their home generously to the homeless, whether people are homeless from loss of income, or loss of their physical home through political or natural disasters like the sort seen recently in Calgary and Alberta.
Thank-you for your time, and consideration.
This was to be read to Council in July, but they pushed back the decision to fix the ’92 bylaw until September. I presume this is to write the bylaws for Options 2 or 3, since Option 1 would take no additional months to implement. I’m opposed to homeowners having to seek a city permit to share their home. The delay until after hundreds or thousands of students move to Regina for the Fall semester into potentially outlawed housing arrangements is a further affront to those sincerely attempting to seriously improve the housing situation of our city.
Please read Paul D.’s summary of the public consultation thus far.
You can see some of the video about what kind of bigotry vs. constructive ideas were heard several weeks ago.
Dear City of Regina,
Regarding your request for feedback at a Public Meeting on Wednesday July 10th, my support is for Option 1, in the style of Calgary, where there is no extra regulation for homeowners who choose to rent to roommates. This will be the best way to increase safe and affordable housing, as it will limit the profitability that would come from illegally chopping up a house into non-permitted bedrooms. The recent negative focus from some of my fellow Reginans on “Rooming Houses” is an effort to crack down on rental houses chopped up into too many extra unsafe bedrooms, and the bylaw doesn’t even deal with those situations. They’ve ended up inciting punishment upon people who are helping to alleviate the problem of scarce housing availability.
Enforce the existing fire, noise, litter, and construction permit bylaws, and don’t inhibit homeowners by adding a layer of bureaucracy to casually renting to roommates, and temporary and infrequent boarders like those attending Grey Cup or other special events.
Regulations in Options 2 and 3 will only become as bizarre and problematic as the ’92 Rooming House definition has become now (and may start out that way also).
7:06 Councillor Young gives introduction.
Agenda by Vanda Conway
Goes into presenting some research, then public comments.
Roughriders play tomorrow.
Low vacancy rate. Rapidly growing economy.
Noise, on street parking, more garbage, and internal changes. Obnoxious behavoiur like loud evenings.
Enforcement issues are many to gather evidence to proceed with prosecution.
16000 requests for service over years, but only ~250 complaints about rooming houses.
Fred Searle points out the definition is outdated.
7:26 CTV interviewing Jason Carlston.
Option 1) remove definition of Rooming House.
Con: no control over numbers of boarders. (Fail to see this as a con; we won’t need many more City workers and police.)
Option 2) rooming houses changed to owner present or not, limit to 4 boarders. 5-8 with public notice and Council approval.
Requiring 3 parking stalls for basic rooming hosue? Outrageously dumb. Subsidizing driving. Reduced green space. More flood risk with more driveways.
Pro? Parking standard applied. This runs counter to City’s stated objective of reducing carbon emissions. Auto subsidy I pointed put to the crowd.
3) regulations up the wazoo. Proactive enforcement they list as a con. Yay bigger government in your home? “Policing continually”.
Cons and pros are not neutral in presentation. Why the bias from the City?
Frontier Centre Peter M. says the parking requirement is not good.
A woman said she wanted no boarders in R1 zone, and licensing. I think it’s clear she wants the licensing mostly with the intention of it detering the ability of her neighbours to legally take on roommates at all.
A young woman with dreds (Shayna Stock?) points out the church is an intimidating place for a public meeting. How has city reached young boarders for comments?
Fred fumbles the answer. The City is only aware they should do this, they haven’t yet.
Wilma Staff asks about ones already built and about fire codes.
Mike Young suggests less regulation. If we have it, and it’s for safety, why is it not the same for families with same number of people? He starts getting heckled when he asks for crowd input with the loaded question “Does anyone want low taxes?”
Fred says it’s a challenging area to regulate. So they’ve considered not regulating it.
Next woman can’t remember a fire in a rooming house, so thinks there are no safety questions raised yet.
Without regs on housing what would we have for safety enforcement?
“Complaints”, answers the City.
I spoke and said the City shouldn’t threaten people working on fixing the housing crisis.
Brian Black wants option 3 with the most regulation, but the current regulations to deal with the parking, garbage, and noise are not being satisfactorily enforced, so why should we assume a new regulation would be better enforced?
The law limits the legal ability of people from taking on a boarder for Grey Cup, or as a live in care giver.
People left wanting a turn at the mic.
Last comment was against option 1 “100%”. I thought the comment was disturbingly authoritarian while praising Canada.
ADDED: Paul at the Dog has a review.