Manitoba government puts close to $7M into initiatives to combat homelessness

·2 min read

The province announced Tuesday they will invest close to $7 million into initiatives as they look to combat homelessness across the province.

Families Minister Rochelle Squires was in Brandon on Tuesday, where she announced that $6.87 million is being invested to support “community-wide approaches to prevent chronic homelessness and build stronger communities across the province.”

“Our government understands that addressing homelessness calls for a co-ordinated multi-faceted approach that includes community-led solutions to meet the needs of people who are precariously housed or experiencing homelessness,” Squires said.

The funding will come as part of the Manitoba government’s first-ever homelessness strategy, A Place for Everyone, which was announced back in February.

As part of the funding, Squires said $4.68 million will be used to support “youth transitioning out of care” by expanding the eligibility criteria for the Supports for Young Adults Grant to provide more financial assistance and housing supports beyond the age 21.

As well, $1.3 million will support extending the Housing Supports Initiative, which works to prevent evictions, and to help “proactively prevent homelessness.”

The Manitoba Rent Relief Fund which was developed in 2021 will also be extended, said Squires. The fund helps low-to moderate-income households secure housing, by providing interest-free loans for rent, utilities, damage deposits and first-month rent payments.

The province also announced they will begin the process of creating a Community Advisory Committee to support the implementation of their homelessness strategy. Ten to 15 Manitobans with experience in the sector and representing youth, women and Indigenous Manitobans will serve two-year terms on the committee.

Additional funding to support the homelessness strategy also includes increasing the annual Bed Bug Grant Program to $400,000 from $200,000, to assist those dealing with pests, and to prevent “homelessness due to infestation.”

An additional $100,000 will be used to develop an advertising campaign the province said will “address the stigma of homelessness, and reduce the discrimination individuals experience in trying to access goods and services across Manitoba communities.”

“Samaritan House is grateful for the continuing support to have a year-round emergency overnight shelter in all weather,” said Barbara McNish, executive director for Samaritan House Ministries, which received $330,000 increase in annual funding to operate its Safe & Warm shelter in Brandon. “This funding and support for homelessness helps ensure people have a safe and warm place to sleep, have a meal and connect.”

The province is also expanding the Homeless Outreach Mentor Program by increasing the annual funding to the Community Health and Housing Association Westman Region Inc. in Brandon to $185,000 from $25,000.

— Dave Baxter is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

Dave Baxter, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Sun