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New lockers just part of Siloam Mission renovations

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Siloam Mission added a weather wall which helps separate the front doors from the drop-in centre.

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Siloam Mission added a weather wall which helps separate the front doors from the drop-in centre. Photo Store

Imagine you carried everything you owned with you every day.

Trying to get a job while carrying a heavy pack could cost you a chance at an interview with some employers.

The Siloam Mission addressed this and other areas of concern today for people in Winnipeg who are homeless or transitioning to a more self-sufficient lifestyle with the official unveiling of the renovated drop-in and dining centre and 200 lockers in a security camera-monitored, locked area for people to safely store personal items.

The $1.13 million in federal and city funding for the project came from the Homlessness Partnering Strategy and included $436,903 for the renovations and $693,427 for service delivery for Siloam's extended operational hours drop-in program.

Floyd Perras, Siloam's executive director, said the locker addition helps homeless and disadvantaged people break through another barrier.

"This gives those people an opportunity to go look for work or go to appointments without having to carry everything they own with them," Perras said. "For people that are in that situation, employers will not necessarily be able to distinguish between somebody who is regularly coming for an interview and somebody who is homeless. The burden of being homeless isn't evident on their backs."

Siloam, which had no lockers before, now has 200 over-sized secure storage units sized 45 cm by 45 cm (18 inches).

The renovations include new windows, a "weather wall" which is insulated against the winter cold and summer heat, flooring, ceiling, air conditioning and updated washrooms. In addition to the government funding, donations came from a variety of local corporations and community partners.

"It's extremely important for the City of Winnipeg, in a very compassionate way, to realize there are (people who are) Winnipeg's less fortunate and we need to do something," said Mayor Sam Katz.

"We, in this city, are very lucky to have entities such as Siloam Mission who basically address these issues of transitional housing, feeding those who are not able to provide for themselves," he said.

"Siloam Mission offers dignity and opportunities for those affected by homelessness and this funding has allowed for important facility upgrades and new, extended hours of operation."

The drop-in centre is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., but closed from 2 to 4 p.m.

Meals are served to over 300 people three times a day.

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