With wind chill values heading below -40 — not to mention the ongoing threat of COVID-19 — it’s a challenging time for Winnipeg’s homeless population.
The Main Street Project’s Anastasia Ziprick told 680 CJOB that due to pandemic restrictions, people’s options for staying warm continue to be limited.
“All the usual places where people are experiencing homelessness might go to warm up — like a mall, or a library or a coffee shop even — there’s restrictions in place that limit access to people,” said Zirpick.
“So that just means we see a lot more people (at the shelter) during the day, especially.”
Ziprick said weeks like these require the focused and collective efforts of all of Winnipeg’s homelessness outreach programs.
“Fortunately we’re a shelter where people can come and go, so we’re able to rotate a lot of people through.
“Moving into our new shelter last year, we have a lot more space — we have 120 beds that are pretty much used all the time — and then we connect with others in the sector to make sure that if there’s any beds needed that we’re able to get people to a place of safety.”
Main Street Project’s outreach vans help transport clients to important services such as the warming shelter itself, and also housing appointments and other tools that help them get out of homelessness.
“We were fortunate to have a new vehicle donated to us so we’re able to actually have two vans on the road, which has been wonderful and such great timing,” said Ziprick.
“We put a call out in the fall because our one outreach van was in not-so-great shape and when it breaks down, we’re not on the road doing the important work that we do.”