Manitoba homelessness strategy gets support from Winnipeg mayor, End Homelessness organization

More than 700 new social housing units in Manitoba will be funded this year as part of the province’s strategy to combat homelessness, Families Minister Rochelle Squires announced Tuesday.

Squires said the units will be built through a combination of construction and rent supplement agreements, and will prioritize community-based housing. The province is also adding to the maintenance budget for existing social housing as part of an overall $126-million plan.

Manitoba’s strategy will also introduce wraparound services to help people experiencing homelessness.

“We are focusing on helping people who are vulnerable and addressing the root causes of homelessness in a holistic way,” Squires said in a statement.

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Funding for social housing positive, but Winnipeg’s substance abuse challenges persist: community outreach director

“Finding and retaining housing for people experiencing homelessness is a complex challenge that requires collaboration across all levels of government, community-based organizations and the community at large.

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“The strategy is based on the knowledge shared by service providers, Indigenous leaders and people with lived experience.”

Winnipeg Mayor Scott Gillingham called the approach a “proven successful model.”

“Homelessness and addiction are two of the biggest issues facing Winnipeg today,” the mayor said.

“The housing-first approach, combined with on-site wraparound services … can enhance quality of life and health-care outcomes.”

Read more: A look at who’s experiencing homelessness in Winnipeg, according to street census

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The province says its strategy, named A Place for Everyone, is based on consultations last year with more than 400 people and organizations across Manitoba, including Indigenous groups and people with lived experience of homelessness.

End Homeless Winnipeg CEO Jason Whitford said in a statement Tuesday that the province’s plan echoes his organization’s focus.

“As an Indigenous organization, I think it bodes well that they recognize the importance of Reconciliation and Indigenous-led resources in this process,” Whitford said.

Squires said the immediate priority will be to strengthen existing services, including an increase in funding to 24-7 emergency shelters.

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