The Manitoba government is providing $1.5 million to End Homelessness Winnipeg to create an additional warming space with up to 150 new overnight beds in Winnipeg this winter for those most in need, Premier Heather Stefanson and Families Minister Rochelle Squires announced today.
“Our government’s number one priority is to protect the health and safety of all Manitobans,” said Stefanson. “The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the lives and livelihoods of all Manitobans, especially those struggling to find a safe place to live. We are committed to listening and working collaboratively with our community leaders and partners to provide supports that will make a real difference for those most in need.”
Street census point-in-time counts in 2015, 2018 and 2021 found that at least two-thirds of those experiencing homelessness in Winnipeg are Indigenous. The new warming space will be guided by a coalition of Indigenous organizations. Elder Wally Swain has gifted this new resource the name N’Dinawemak – Our Relatives.
“As the temperature drops, it is important that we step up for our most vulnerable,” said Squires. “We have listened to the homeless-serving sector, which has told us about a need for low-barrier, Indigenous-led supports for people who need shelter from the cold. Our government’s investment of $1.5 million will create up to 150 new overnight beds to meet this need in Winnipeg this winter.”
N’Dinawekmak – Our Relatives will offer a community care camp starting today. The camp will be led by OPK, Anishiative and Community.204 working together under the name Saabe Peacewalkers, with support from the Downtown Community Safety Partnership. Two tipis and supervised fires will serve as an outdoor warming space operating 24-7 throughout the winter.
A property at 190 Disraeli Fwy. will serve as the site for the new overnight beds and is being provided by a generous and caring private-sector partner. The coalition of Indigenous organizations, in partnership with End Homelessness Winnipeg, the City of Winnipeg and the Manitoba government, will collaborate to provide wrap-around supports for people experiencing homelessness in Winnipeg this winter.
“Our objective is to provide short-term emergency housing and work with individuals towards longer-term housing solutions, and our priority is to engage and invite individuals currently residing in unsafe circumstances including encampments and other public spaces,” said Jason Whitford, chief executive officer, End Homelessness Winnipeg. “It is hoped this Indigenous-led resource will provide additional warming options for people experiencing homelessness this winter, while permanent housing alternatives are created.”
The most recent interim point-in-time count in April 2021 observed 424 people in Winnipeg sleeping in unsheltered locations, including encampments and transit shelters. There are indications that unsheltered homelessness has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Manitoba government has invested more than $6 million to address homelessness during the pandemic, including $5.8 million for Siloam Mission, Resource Assistance for Youth and Salvation Army for shelter beds and physical distancing, as well as for daytime drop-in and alternative isolation accommodations operated by Main Street Project.
As a homelessness prevention activity, the Manitoba government has also created the province’s first rent bank program to support stable housing for low-income to moderate-income families with a $5.6-million provision to the Manitoba Non-Profit Housing Association. The rent bank provides interest-free loans to tenants who are behind in their rent or need more suitable housing. Rent banks are a leading best practice in stabilizing housing and preventing homelessness, noted the minister.
For more information on End Homelessness Winnipeg, visit: