The Manitoba government announced $5.4 million in funding to community agencies for those experiencing homelessness Thursday afternoon.
Families minister Rochelle Squires and justice minister Kelvin Goertzen were joined by Jason Whitford of End Homelessness Winnipeg and Lorie English of the West End Women’s Centre for the announcement.
“Our government understands that addressing homelessness calls for a co-ordinated multi-faceted approach that includes community-led solutions to connect vulnerable people to the housing supports they need,” said Squires.
“These early steps our government is announcing today will ensure community-led organizations can continue to provide culturally-appropriate services to people in need, so they can have safe places to call home and hope for the future.”
The strategy includes five key pillars such as modernizing the emergency response, ensuring housing is provided with supports, focusing on prevention, improving service navigation and recognizing rural and northern needs.
“Today’s funding announcement will provide culturally-appropriate supports and services to respond to these calls in a way that ensures the safety and dignity of all Manitobans,” said Goertzen.
In an effort to modernize the emergency response, funding will be directed toward community-based organizations that are meeting acute needs in Winnipeg.
Squires said the province is providing an additional $1.872 million to sustain ongoing 24-hour operations with culturally-relevant programming.
This is a step up from the $1.5 million funded to support N’Dinawemak, which offered warming space for up to 150 vulnerable Manitobans, which was announced in November by Premier Heather Stefanson.
Other supports are being offered to such organizations as Homes for Heroes Veterans Village which will be using $500,000 of the funds to help aid the construction of 20 tiny homes that will be serviced by on-site counselling.
Additionally, $855,600 will be directed to support transitional housing services offered by the West Central Women’s Resource Centre.
In addition, The Manitoba Rent Relief Fund (MRRF) has approved more than 400 interest-free loans since the end of May 2021 — helping families to remain in their homes.
Squires also announced the province is helping Manitobans struggling with affordability by indexing Rent Assist benefits — which keeps housing affordable for Manitobans with low income.
The province has also announced $1.25 million over five years to End Homelessness Winnipeg.
“On behalf of End Homelessness Winnipeg, I am pleased to see these investments by the Manitoba government, supporting Indigenous-led and community-based resources to address the needs of our unsheltered relatives,” said Whitford.
“We look forward to further announcements, investments and collaborations to address the need for low-income, supportive and transitional housing in Winnipeg, through the province’s PDF initiative and forthcoming homelessness strategy.” he added.
While work on the strategy is ongoing, the investments announced today align with the overall goals of the strategy and feedback gathered in the first three months of 2022 through stakeholder engagement.
“Homelessness is a complex issue which requires a co-ordinated response across a number of municipal, provincial and federal agencies and grass-roots organizations responding to the needs on the front lines.” said Goertzen.
The Department of Mental Health and Community Wellness has also released A Path to Mental Health and Community Wellness: A Roadmap for Manitoba , which includes $17.1 million in strategic investments that will benefit the whole-of-government approach to homelessness.