People struggling with homelessness will soon have a consistent blueprint for seeking help.
The Regina Survival Guide and Map was created by Marc Spooner. Now through a partnership with the City of Regina, it'll be updated and created on a permanent basis.
Spooner is a professor in the Department of Education at the University of Regina. The idea to start the guide started in 2007. Through a project, Spooner was interviewing people who were using different community-based services in the city.
"And one of the interviewees just kind of responded saying 'You know, it'd be good if there was a map with the hours to where all the services were,'" Spooner said. "And then that got me thinking."
Spooner created a map that could be easily folded like a pamphlet in 2007. Since then he's made six iterations, updating it each time.
"It would list where you could get food and services, emergency shelter, free clothing, community care, community services," Spooner said. "And they were very well received."
Then Spooner couldn't keep up with the printing. It's been a dream of his that an organization would take it over, then the City of Regina approached him to partner on it.
Spooner said this will now guarantee funding for the map, make sure it's distributed and update it regularly.
"With these community-based organizations, their funding is so precarious that they can't guarantee almost three months later what their services are going to be," Spooner said. "So the map has to be updated pretty regularly."
Spooner said there's an aspect of learning to the project, as the map is distributed to public libraries, community-based organizations, bus stops but also restaurants.
"Some might think that's kind of counterintuitive, but a lot of the feedback I got was, 'Wow, we didn't know there was a homelessness issue.' And then the other part was 'We didn't know where we could send our support,'" he said. "The map served in that way too."
City council debating $1 million housing-first strategy this month
"I'd love to see a day when the map is no longer needed and that we're housing our homeless as a community," Spooner said. "I think that would be a real successful story and I'd love to talk about that someday."
Along with taking on the map, the City of Regina is also debating a $1 million ongoing operation of permanent supportive housing. The housing-first strategy is set to go before city council on April 14.
The Permanent Supportive Housing Operating Grant would begin in 2022 and create 20 new housing spaces as a part of the plan to end homelessness published in 2018. It would provide up to $1 million annually for community-based organizations to operate the housing spaces.
Administration said this grant would help, and have other effects for the public sector including: an 81 per cent reduction in related police calls, 89 per cent fewer related arrests, 75 percent fewer ER visits and 93 per cent fewer detox visits.