With a cold snap about to hit, Winnipeg homelessness project readies emergency response

The Mitchell Fabrics building on Main Street is now part of a Main Street Project shelter expansion. Kevin Hirschfield / Global News

With cold weather on the horizon – Wednesday’s forecast calls for an overnight low of -29 C, not including the windchill – Winnipeg homeless shelters are ramping up initiatives to keep people warm and safe.

Main Street Project executive director Rick Lees told 680 CJOB on the weekend that his organization has opened its new Main Street warming facility, located at the former Mitchell Fabrics building, to give people some overnight relief from the elements.

The warming facility is just one aspect of the building’s redevelopment, said Lees.

“It is certainly a big deal. It’s going to give us about 37,000 square feet of a very innovative community health centre for the homeless.

“It’s going to offer a variety of services in it. It’s a pretty significant expansion for Main Street Project in terms of both dollars and space.”

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Rick Lees, executive director of the Main Street Project. Erik Pindera/Global News

Lees said a part of the space is currently being used for the warming centre, as well as an expansion of the shelter’s essentials market for clothing and supplies for people who require them.

READ MORE: As Winnipeg homeless camps spread, Main Street Project provides outreach

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Lees said his organization works closely with other shelters and End Homelessness Winnipeg to provide services for the city’s homeless population, but with one significant difference.

“Main Street Project is a bit different in that we’re a low-barrier, harm-reduction facility,” he said. “That means you don’t have to be dry or not intoxicated to use our services, whereas you do in those other facilities.

“We play an important role in a key partnership in that we will take people who are using substances and perhaps in an intoxicated state into shelter. Every night we accommodate 100 to 110 (people) in our principal shelter.”

The project also operates an outreach van service that patrols the inner city and acts as a backup to the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service by transporting people who need to be transported but don’t require an ambulance.

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Main Street Project’s Rick Lees talks about Winnipeg’s homeless camps – Sep 23, 2019


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