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 concerns for people in Winnipeg who are homeless or transitioning to a more self-sufficient lifestyle with the unveiling Monday of the renovated drop-in and dining centre and 200 lockers in a security-camera monitored, locked area for people to safely store their personal items.
'This funding has allowed for important facility upgrades and new, extended hours of operation'
The $1.13 million in federal and city funding for the project comes from the Homelessness Partnering Strategy and includes $436,903 for the renovations and $693,427 for service delivery to Siloam's 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 secure storage units sized 45 centimetres by 45 centimetres. The lockers will also allow people to store their winter coats.
The renovations include new windows, flooring, ceiling and air conditioning, updated washrooms and a "weather wall" insulated against the winter cold and summer heat. New tables, chairs and blinds, wall-mounted TV, gas fireplace and renovated kitchen are some of the other improvement to the drop-in/dining area.
In addition to the government funding, donations came from a variety of local corporations and community partners.
"It really speaks to how the community really owns Siloam Mission," Perras said.
Mayor Sam Katz said the project allowed the city to be involved in a compassionate way in assisting Winnipeg's less fortunate.
"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 daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (closed 2-4 p.m.) Meals are served to more than 300 people three times a day.