Regina tent city organizers call for end to ‘revolving door’ of homelessness

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Sunday is Day 10 as the first tent at Camp Marjorie was pitched at Regina’s Core Community Park — also known as Pepsi Park — in the city’s heritage neighborhood.

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The camp is named after a woman from Regina who died earlier this month from homelessness and struggles with drug addiction.

Those who are helping in Tent City are hoping that their efforts can prevent another unfortunate death from occurring.

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After the province replaced the Saskatchewan Assistance Program (SAP) and Transitional Employment Allowance (TEA) with the new Saskatchewan Income Support (SIS) program, advocates say it has resulted in a poor, precarious situation in which people can pay their rent. Unable to pay and seek shelter and food elsewhere.

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The ongoing pandemic has also not improved the conditions.

A large number of people could be seen bringing a variety of food, snacks and water as it progressed on a Sunday afternoon.

“The first day, we had one tent, now we’re up to 27 tents,” said Shylo Stevenson, communications officer for Regina Needle Recovery and Community Support (RFPS), one of the camp’s organizers.

“About 20 to 40 people come and go, social services come and take a lot of residents from here and are staying in hotels around Regina right now,” he said.

Stevenson said Sunday there was a meeting between him and Chad Ryan, executive director of the Saskatchewan Ministry of Social Services.

Stevenson said they are trying to work out a way forward. A follow-up meeting is planned to discuss the next steps.

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Stevenson said he cannot discuss the details of their discussion at this time, however, adding that Ryan “shows a genuine interest in making sure people were okay and fed and where services were lacking.”

Now, organizers are calling on officials from the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions to join the discussion on a daily basis instead of “office hours, Monday through Friday.”

“These issues are there 24 hours a day and we are pushing all these key stakeholders to say, ‘To get this person home, they need some mental health evaluation, some addictions services as well. Financial support,'” Stevenson said.

When it comes to camp residents temporarily staying in hotels by the Ministry of Social Services, Stevenson wants the ministry to take more accountability to ensure that people facing homelessness are in the “revolving door” of the homeless. Don’t get trapped

“I just told the Ministry of Social Services that you cannot put these people back in the camp, because you have taken responsibility for these people,” he explained.

Stevenson said, “For you to send them back to us, you are making them homeless, because they interfered to look like heroes, which is great, but now they need to move forward with that support. “

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He says workers from The Saskatchewan Assured Income for Disability (SAID) and SIS program are being sent to the location to talk to people about their condition and how it can be improved.

As they wait to see what happens next, a fence can now be seen standing around the perimeter of the tent. Stevenson said there are a number of reasons why the city is putting up fencing.

“Saving people from the elements was the main thing. Last week when we were in the middle of a cold and everything, we needed something like this to stop the wind – a lot of tents fell down,” he said.

With the harsh conditions of a prairie winter just around the corner, Stevenson said she and others are really concerned about where the dozens will go, with the city overwhelmed with shelters and people regularly having to turn away.

He says that for now the warm blankets and tents being supplied are providing shelter at night, but with winters approaching -40 and -50, it will be an entirely different story.

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He also said that while the fence helps maintain the privacy of the residents who use the camp, it helps protect their dignity as the site is not a “zoo” where people can visit as they wish.

Additionally, he said that some people have complained of the site being an “eye pain”, but others, such as volunteer Ian Betz-Wood, see something completely different.

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“We have a lot of other, bigger problems that it takes to get someone housing so they can get help and transition to something that is better or more suitable, which might not be the best looking thing. More important than ever… said Wood.

He said the Regina Fire and Protective Services (RFPS) had given the camp a green light a few days ago to use charcoal briquettes in two fire pits to generate heat, with the team cleaning the areas on Saturday.

He says the heat will help make the evenings and nights more bearable for sleeping outside and those living in tents.

Betz-Wood says she volunteered several times, but after a long day cleaning out fire pits at the site, it made her how simple, everyday things like taking a shower are so easily accepted by many. can go.

-Granthshala news with files from Moises Canales-Lavigne



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