Domestic violence survivor living in squalid conditions after Sask. Party cut housing reno fund

REGINA - Today, the Saskatchewan NDP was joined at the Legislature by Shannon Kay, a single mother caring for seven kids. Shannon is one of the many Saskatchewan people living in squalid conditions after the Sask. Party government cut the housing reno fund.

“Shannon shouldn’t have to fight so hard just to live in a house free from mould and raw sewage,” said Opposition Leader Carla Beck. “This government has stopped listening to people. They are spending too much time on expensive international trips and failing to get the basics right.”

Over three years ago, Shannon and her children fled their Saskatoon home due to domestic violence. The family attempted a fresh start, but just a few months later, a devastating electrical fire destroyed everything they owned. The fire received widespread news coverage, generating significant support for the family.

The SaskHousing Authority eventually relocated Shannon and her children to Sturby Place. Shannon was not informed of Sturby's history of sewage backups and within months of taking possession of her unit the basement flooded and many of the donated goods she received after the fire were ruined.

Shannon says that the provincial housing authority provided a dumpster for the belongings of her and her neighbours, and indicated that the government would not provide any compensation and that tenants ought simply to wait until the water recedes. The suite has flooded with sewage numerous times in the last three years and each time the response from the government has been the same. 

There is now significant water damage and black mould in Shannon’s basement. The provincial housing authority has painted over past water damage and has yet to fix the underlying issue, despite multiple requests to do so. 

Shannon and her children are developing serious health problems linked to mould exposure. And to make matters even worse, they are paying exorbitantly high water bills due to a water line leak that has been identified by the City of Saskatoon but not yet fixed by the Ministry. 

The Sask. Party government has dramatically cut supports for SaskHousing for the better part of a decade. The province’s overall contribution to the housing portfolio fell from 24% of total revenues in 2011 to just 2% in 2021. Cuts made over the past decade represent a reduction of between $350 million and half a billion from previous levels of provincial funding. The cost of construction has also dramatically increased with inflation.

“This government has cut and mismanaged the housing stock so badly that children are actually getting sick just living in these units,” said Social Services Critic Meara Conway. “It’s simply unacceptable for 3,000 government units to lie vacant, and many others in disrepair, at a time when homelessness is reaching a crisis point and rent has never been more expensive.”

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