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Safe Shelter Now Plan to End Homelessness in Manitoba

Treaty 1 Territory, Homeland of the Red River Métis, Winnipeg MB - Dougald Lamont and the Manitoba Liberals released their plan for addressing homelessness in the province today, with the goal of same-day housing placements to get people safe shelter and aiming to end homelessness by 2025 as an act of reconciliation.

The 2022 Winnipeg Street Census showed that 68% of those who are experiencing homeless are Indigenous, with 89% of those sleeping outdoors being indigenous. It is estimated that more than half, 52%, of people who are homeless were once in custody of Manitoba's Child and Family Services (CFS) system.

"Manitoba's 'end homelessness' policy requires six months of homelessness before people can get help. There is no reason, other than political will, that we cannot ensure that no one in Manitoba has to sleep on the streets," said Dougald Lamont, Manitoba Liberal Leader and MLA for St. Boniface. "We need to work towards Same-Day housing, and above all we need to address homelessness as an act of reconciliation. Many Indigenous Manitobans are homeless because of what the Manitoba Government did to them and their families. We have a responsibility as a province to make this right."

The goal of the Manitoba Liberal plan to end homeless within two years. By contrast, the Manitoba NDP's plan to end homelessness, based on an American model from Houston, Texas, would take eight years.

The plan has four pillars to ensure no Manitobans fall through the cracks:

  1. Same-Day Housing. Currently, people who are homeless may have to be "chronically homeless" for six months before they can qualify for housing. This policy means that we will never end homelessness. Manitoba Liberals will adapt models from Medicine Hat and other cities where rapid housing with relevant supports is the norm.

  2. Ending Homelessness in Manitoba an act of Reconciliation. Many people who are homeless are Indigenous and were once wards of the provincial child and family services system. The 2022 Winnipeg Street Census showed that 68% of those who are experiencing homeless are Indigenous (with 89% of those sleeping outdoors being indigenous). As a province, we have a responsibility to every Manitoban.

  3. A Path Towards Self-Reliance with Mental Health and Training Supports to help people escape homelessness and poverty for good. This includes assess and treating the reasons people are homeless including poverty, addictions, the Child and Family Services System; Learning Disabilities; ADHD; FASD; autism; and those who are 2SLGBTQ.

  4. Finding Home: Create a dashboard Linked to Supports, updated daily, to help people and organizations navigate to the help they need and find and use food, services, warming locations and shelter.

Manitoba Liberals say they have consulted with organizations across the province that are doing great work already, but need to be supported with long-term and stable funding to be able to maximize their resources.

As many advocates have noted, the costs of crisis emergency services for people who are homeless, like ER visits or being detained by police because no mental health or social workers are available, are much more costly than housing. Prisons may cost as much as $1,000 a day, hospitals $500, while housing may be $30 a day.

"For too long, people who are homeless have been treated as a temporary problem that only gets band-aid solutions," said Jon Gerrard, Manitoba Liberal MLA for River Heights. "The problems that lead to homelessness may be complicated, but the solution is not. Get them a home with supports - even a simple room - and once they are safe, they can start to heal and recover."

View the Manitoba Liberal Plan to End Homelessness here.

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