I’ve heard from a lot of people over the summer concerned about unhoused folks who are staying in Wolseley public spaces including many of our parks and along the river bank.
Most people I talk to are compassionate and concerned for the safety and well-being of everyone in our community. Others are angry and frustrated about violence, theft and property damage.
Everyone in Manitoba should have a safe place to live with dignity and access to the services they need.
The growing number of makeshift shelters in our city is a symptom of much deeper provincial and federal policy problems on housing, poverty, and homelessness.
The PC government has made the situation worse by cutting social housing and selling off hundreds of units to private businesses - a total loss of 1,700 social housing units from 2017 to 2020. This is eroding the stock of social and affordable housing units in our province, while the wait list grows into the thousands.
Throughout the pandemic there also was a loss of shelter beds due to distancing requirements and many folks felt unsafe sleeping indoors with strangers. The PC government failed to make up for this shortfall and keep unhoused Manitobans safe.
The realities of colonization, poverty, trauma, and other social inequalities affect people’s access to housing. People need a safe place to call home in order to pursue their goals, yet many housing options have strict requirements such as for residents to be free of substance use. We need a "housing first" model, whereby people are able to acquire shelter first and use that as a launching pad for other personal goals, such as overcoming addiction or finding employment.
According to the City of Winnipeg, everyone has the right to occupy public spaces, but you may contact the police non-emergency number if folks are living on your private property or phone 911 if you witness criminal activity.
If you are looking for ways to help your unhoused neighbours here in Wolseley, you can contact the West End BIZ or West Broadway Bear Clan Patrol to ask them to check on the wellbeing of unhoused folks you encounter.
If you are able, you can personally offer water, food, blankets, hygiene items or rain gear to those who may need it. As a community, we can continue to advocate for more public washrooms and call on this PC government to reverse its cuts to social and affordable housing.
Reach out to my office anytime at 204-792-2773 or email@example.com
Wolseley constituency report
Lisa Naylor is the NDP MLA for Wolseley.