Nilus rests his hand on top of a snow-covered pumpkin placed outside the tent he’s been living in for the past three months.
“Ready for Halloween,” he laughs.
But an early wintery blast in Manitoba has made life for Nilus quite difficult, and he’s not alone. The colder weather has been causing major problems for the homeless population in Winnipeg.
“It’s been a week already and it’s getting colder, and I just wish I had a facility where I could go to,” Nilus told CTV News.
Space at homeless shelters in Winnipeg is quickly vanishing as the winter-like weather has caused a spike in demand.
Siloam Mission has 143 beds available on any given night, but CEO Tessa Blakie Whitecloud said they have already reached capacity.
“Definitely with the cold weather hitting, it’s come on a bit quicker that we’re full in terms of the men’s side of things,” she said. “In terms of the women’s side, you know that’s been full for almost the whole two years I’ve worked here.”
It’s left Nilus with the question of where to go.
Siloam Mission says it’s working with its partners in the sector to ensure they can redistribute the available beds in the city among the people who need them.
“We’re also looking at what’s a solution when we’re all full. We’re not quite there yet, but we’re very close,” Blakie Whitecloud said.
Siloam Mission tells CTV News if no beds are available, they coordinate with the other shelters to find a space for them. Then they arrange for transportation to get them there.
Blakie Whitecloud said this crisis happens every year when bad weather hits – it’s one of the reasons she believes a more long-term solution is needed.
“If we could plan well in advance to be building the units we need in our city, we could be actually solving homelessness instead of just doing a winter Band-Aid.”
That’s what Nilus wants – a safe and affordable place of his own.
“I just need a nice home I can call home.”
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