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Task force touts housing-first strategy to end homelessness

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At the packed United Way headquarters a community task force (seen on stage), comprising representatives from private, public and not-for-profit sectors, released a action plan today to end homelessness in Winnipeg in the next decade.

JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

At the packed United Way headquarters a community task force (seen on stage), comprising representatives from private, public and not-for-profit sectors, released a action plan today to end homelessness in Winnipeg in the next decade. Photo Store

Homelessness will be a thing of the past if a task force gets its way.

The Community Task Force to End Homelessness, put together by the United Way and the Winnipeg Poverty Reduction Council, says more has to be done to eliminate homelessness than is being done today.

The task force, made up of members of government and the private sector, is recommending several changes including finding out how many people are homeless and building 300 more supported housing units by 2016.

"We need to shift from managing homelessness to ending homelessness," said task force co-chairman Rob Johnston, who is also regional president of the Royal Bank.

"We know Housing First has worked in other cities... A home is the first step to supporting someone out of homelessness."

Robert Brown, who was homeless and has now lived for four years in supported housing, says it works.

"It's a great idea," Brown said after the announcement.

"It has helped me. I'm 60 years old and I have my first birth certificate and I have a place to stay that is safe."

Floyd Perras, executive director of Siloam Mission, said they look forward to working with the task force.

Perras said he thinks a one-stop access centre the task force proposes would help.

"We know there are about 1,200 unique individuals who come to us but we don't know how many then go to places like the Salvation Army."

Kevin.rollason@freepress.mb.ca

History

Updated on Tuesday, April 29, 2014 at 1:51 PM CDT: adds photos

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