At Main Street Project, Jessica-Lynn Prosser collects dozens of pairs of socks to be shared with unsheltered Winnipeggers.
“A one-room apartment to call home, and be safe.”
More than 1,200 Winnipeggers experiencing homelessness shared their stories, insights, hopes, and dreams last spring to help shed light on what it’s like to live in our city without a home—and why we need to keep working toward ending homelessness for everyone.
End Homelessness Winnipeg, an agency funded by United Way Winnipeg donors, worked with the Social Planning Council of Winnipeg to release the fourth Winnipeg Street Census report this week.
“Everyone is concerned—not just a small amount of people. This is all of us.”
In May, volunteers interviewed 1,256 people experiencing homelessness over a 24-hour period in various areas around the city. The numbers do not account for the full extent of homelessness—the census is considered a snapshot of those Winnipeggers connected with during just one spring day.
Participants answered 21 questions, opening up about their hometowns, their history of trauma, whether they’d finished high school, how long they’d been unsheltered, the different ways they make money, and more.
Jason Whitford, End Homelessness Winnipeg’s CEO, said the stories shared by unsheltered Winnipeggers are invaluable to his work in making sure our city’s front-line-serving agencies have the skills and resources they need to help people experiencing homelessness.
“Findings like the ones shared in the Winnipeg Street Census report helps us better understand the people experiencing homelessness, how they came to be in this position, and the barriers to exiting it,” Whitford said.
The report stated experiencing homelessness cuts seven-to-ten years off a person’s lifespan, and unsheltered people are eight to 10 times more likely to experience early death.
Betty Edel, Director of Housing Supports at End Homelessness Winnipeg, said she knows Winnipeg as a whole community is paying attention to the complexities and long-term consequences of homelessness right now.
Lasting effects of the pandemic, combined with the skyrocketing costs of basic needs, has the issue in the forefront of people’s minds as more Winnipeggers than ever are being pushed closer to the edge. Record-breaking numbers of hamper requests are just one indication of the urgency of the current crisis.
“Everyone is concerned—not just a small amount of people,” said Edel. “This is all of us.”
In addition to supporting front-line agencies, End Homelessness Winnipeg also works to find and implement long-term, wraparound solutions to homelessness so Winnipeggers can move from poverty to possibility.
We are having an impact in significant ways, and ending chronic homelessness is possible in our city—with a coordinated, caring, and consistent effort from our whole community. There’s a responsibility for everyone to help in some way.
“We all have to be in this together,” Edel said.
“The only way this is going to change if is we are all in this together.”