USask and Saskatoon Fire Department collaborate on housing insecurity project – Saskatoon

Researchers from the University of Saskatchewan are working with the Saskatoon Fire Department to learn more about gaps in social services and regulations in place to combat housing insecurity and homelessness.

“With this research project, we thought it would be beneficial…to investigate why this house was closed in the first place? A lot of times when we go in and shut down a house, the problem didn’t appear overnight,” said Melissa McHale, with the Saskatoon Fire Department’s fire enforcement division.

“If we deem a house uninhabitable, as a last resort we will issue a notice to close the house. We had to do this where people, family, pets live in the homes.

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McHale said firefighters are responsible for closing buildings if they become unsafe, which can result in residents being displaced from their homes.

Nazmi Sari, chair of the economics department at USask’s College of Arts and Sciences, said several city policies in place could lead to unintended consequences.

The research project will also examine economic policies related to housing subsidies and determine whether further measures are needed.

“If you look at the financial policies of local, provincial or federal governments, you will see that there is not enough. They are inadequate,” Sari said.

“I hope this project will help us identify the right kind of policies, or review the policies we have and identify which ones are the best, or which ones are working to some extent and how we need to change them. “

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Front-line responders, such as fire investigators and bylaw inspectors, will be surveyed to determine how city bylaws help or harm housing and homelessness in Saskatoon.

McHale said she hopes this project will help develop more proactive policies, adding that a better understanding of what leads to homelessness could potentially help create those policies.

“Even more organizations are collaborating together,” McHale said. “Just identifying some of these gaps or maybe how people are falling through the cracks, anything we could do or recommendations we could make to other agencies to prevent this problem before it happens. ‘it doesn’t happen.’

“Having the city on the same page, interested and willing to work with and consider revising its policies, it’s a great experience because you feel like your research has some potential to contribute to policy,” he said. Sari said.

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