Community gathers to discuss housing strategy

Local groups celebrating federal announcement


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This article was published 27/12/2017 (1800 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

For people like Christina Maes-Nino, who is part of the national housing coalition in Winnipeg, the government’s recent announcement of a housing strategy is nothing short of victory.

However, she and her colleagues say the work is just beginning. On Dec. 19, the Right to Housing coalition hosted a discussion on the strategy at Crossways in Common (222 Furby St.) to break down what the new policy will look like, as well as what local residents can do to get resources where they need them.

“This is a long time coming,” Maes-Nino said to a packed room. “We know we’re never going to have enough resources for the housing that we need unless something radical changes in Canada, and we’ll work on that too. Right now, we have this opportunity. Let’s not let it slip away.”

Alana Trachenko Christina Maes-Nino of the housing coalition presents to a packed house at Crossways on Dec. 19 regarding the national housing strategy.

The federal government has proposed a $40 billion investment into the 10-year strategy, which aims to address social housing needs throughout the country, support vulnerable Canadians and reduce the rate of homelessness.

This kind of investment will make the biggest difference to those who are low-income or unemployed, according to Charleswood-St. James-Assiniboia-Headingley MP Doug Eyolfson. He recently visited local senior home Hamilton House, which was in danger of shuttering without funding support.

“(Hamilton House) is a vitally important part of the community because there are many people, a lot of seniors, and senior women, who are really having trouble making ends meet,” Eyolfson said. “A lot weren’t employed in the workforce and have since become divorced or widows and have limited incomes and it’s a struggle for these people trying to afford medications and food.”

Eyolfson said now, Hamilton House is planning on applying for funding under the NHS which will help keep it open for residents. He said so far there isn’t a breakdown of how much funding will go to individual provinces and territories.

“This speaks to health, it speaks to the social determinants of health,” Eyolfson said. “Affordable housing is a key determinant of how healthy someone is.”

Josh Brandon of the Social Planning Council said historically, the $40-billion investment represents a lot of support but it still won’t compare to the amount seen in the ’70s and ’80s. At that time, 10 per cent of all residential housing construction was supported by the government.

“It’s just a partial step in the right direction, a down payment of where we need to go,” Brandon said.

Alana Trachenko West Central Women's Resource Centre's Lisa Spring discusses the gendered experience of homelessness in Winnipeg.

The event on Dec. 19 included a presentation by Lisa Spring from the West Central Women’s Resource Centre. She emphasized that when looking at ways to apply federal funding, it’s important to find ways to reach those with a gendered experience of homelessness.

“We look at homelessness as being very shelter-based,” Spring said. “But what we know is that people with a gendered experience don’t find shelters safe… often the only other choice is to sleep rough on the streets or be involved in relationships that are not stable all the way up to extremely violent in order to keep a roof over your head.

“We have to look at the definition of homelessness. We have to make sure that by our definition, that we’re not leaving out whole chunks of people.”

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