Community organizations are coming together to educate the public about homelessness in Winnipeg.
End Homelessness Winnipeg, in partnership with Elder Charlotte Nolin, Right to Housing Coalition, Make Poverty History Manitoba, and Kíkininaw Óma Strategy to Support Unsheltered Winnipeggers, will host a virtual seminar on Wed., April 7 between 7 and 8 p.m. Representatives from Ndinawemaaganag Endaawaad (Ndinawe) and Main Street Project will speak at the event.
Housing insecurity has been a long-standing issue in Winnipeg. The challenges faced by people experiencing homelessness have only been worsened by the pandemic, said Betty Edel, the manager of housing supports at EHW.
"I think this pandemic has just made people very aware of homelessness, this pandemic has brought out all the inequities that there are in society."
It’s especially difficult for people experiencing homelessness to self-isolate and distance themselves from others — as recommended by public health orders — because they don’t have their own space; many stay at shelters.
The 2018 Winnipeg Street Census surveyed more than 1,500 people experiencing housing insecurity over a 24-hour period. More than half of the survey participants were provisionally accommodated, a quarter were staying in an emergency shelter, and the remainder were unsheltered or had an unknown location.
Survey respondents reported family breakdown, addiction or substance use, eviction, and income issues at the top four catalysts behind their homelessness.
People sleeping in bus shacks during the cold snap in January and February made media headlines and captured overwhelming attention from the public. Winnipeggers started to wonder how they could help, Edel explained.
"We thought it was … time to bring people together and talk about homelessness," she said.
The seminar will cover why there is homelessness, who is homeless, and solutions to housing insecurity, according to Edel.
"We’re going to be letting people know, this is the lay of the land here and these are concrete things that you can do to help us move so we’re not in this position anymore."
Public intervention is "imperative" to resolving homelessness, Edel said.
"We are all our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers.
"If you’re experiencing being homeless and constantly operating in crisis and just trying to survive, that’s hard for you to go out there and advocate for yourself. So it’s our responsibility as people of privilege who have a home and a job and food and a sense of safety, to use that privilege to go out and advocate and make sure that all of us have that same privilege."
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The Times community journalist
If The Buggles’ 1979 breakout single were about Sydney, it might be called Print Killed the Radio Star. Before she joined Canstar Community News, Sydney was an anchor and a reporter for a few local news radio stations in rural Manitoba. After realizing she enjoyed writing more than speaking, Sydney moved to Winnipeg just months after graduating from Carleton University in Ottawa with degrees in journalism and geography. Through clenched teeth and frostbitten fingers, she has come to appreciate Winnipeg — numbing winters and all. When she’s not in the newsroom, Sydney can be found playing card games, listening to music, and writing content for her friends who are too cheap to hire a PR team. Sydney has a strong heart for community news and believes every neighbourhood, town and city is better off because of it — although she may be biased. Sydney loves learning about communities and what makes them tick, which is why she’s grateful to be a reporter covering northwest Winnipeg neighbourhoods, where resilience and innovation is abundant. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org