Rob Johnston, co-chair of the Community Task Force, announces The Plan to End Homelessness in Winnipeg. Photo by Doug Little.
Humbled and inspired by the personal stories of more than 80 people with lived homelessness experience (PDF), the Task Force—convened by United Way and Winnipeg Poverty Reduction Council—consulted with many Winnipeggers who have a stake in ending homelessness: from a Council of Elders to the non-profit service providers who work daily to meet the needs of people on the street; from government policymakers to the private sector.
This collection of voices shaped the plan into a shared vision of what’s possible.
Shifting our thinking, as a community, from managing homelessness to ending it.
The Plan’s boldest element is the notion of a new non-profit organization to provide leadership, coordination, and centralized funding, whose sole focus is ending homelessness in Winnipeg.
The goal is to create a streamlined process that fasttracks homeless individuals into housing, per the emerging best practice of Housing First.
As a community, we need to shift our thinking from managing homelessness to ending it. Make no mistake – we are housing some of the chronically homeless people in our city – but we are doing it in emergency beds, in hospital waiting rooms, in ambulances, in jails and detention centres – and not only is this some of the most expensive housing around, this is not how people should live.
The Plan’s 4 key focus areas.
1. Prevent homelessness, by creating accessible pathways to permanent housing for people who are leaving hospitals, institutions and Children’s Service Authorities. Create a “one-stop” resource and centralized intake targeted to the needs of people at risk of homelessness, so they can easily access all available information, help and money.
2. Create a person-centred system of care. Most people will end their homelessness on their own or with the services currently available. But for some, mental illness, long-term substance abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder and developmental disabilities make it difficult for them to end their homelessness with the support currently available. They need an actual system of care created, focused specifically on ending homelessness through “Housing With Supports” programs.
3. Increase the supply and availability of housing to combat Winnipeg’s low vacancy rate, including the ultimate creation of 7500 affordable housing units.
4. Measure what we do, so we can be sure it’s making life better in Winnipeg. Conduct an annual census of homeless people, and make the data easy to share.
An action plan for a healthier, stronger Winnipeg.
The Plan also includes an action plan to guide the bold first steps of the new nonprofit.
Throughout the work of the Task Force we have ensured that the voices of those who are or who have been homeless have been paramount. We could not conceive of this plan without also including their voices. This is the lived experience of Fred Knoedler, someone who has been homeless in Winnipeg.
We believe we can end homelessness in Winnipeg, improve the quality of people’s lives, reduce the burden on emergency services, and address one of the roots causes of chronic poverty in our community.
We encourage you to read the plan, dream big about what we can all accomplish together, and to contact us if you’d like to get involved in making homelessness history.
Community Task Force Members
Dr. Jino Distasio
Mae Louise Campbell
Jo Jo Sutherland