Manitoba to open shelters 24/7 during the cold

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The Manitoba government is supporting select shelters across Manitoba to operate 24-7 and provide all-day and all-night support as winter sets in, Housing, Addictions and Homelessness Minister Bernadette Smith announced today.

“As someone with lived experience, I know how important it is to keep people warm and sheltered from the frigid prairie temperatures,” said Smith. “Providing vital daytime drop-in options is part of the essential wraparound supports being offered to assist more Manitobans as they transition from homelessness.”

The minister noted the Department of Housing, Addictions and Homelessness is responding to a critical shelter service gap that was identified through consultations and program reviews of provincially funded emergency shelters, casework and transitional housing services.

“Ensuring community members are safely sheltered throughout the winter months supports Manitobans who are trying to transition to a more stable housing situation, which is the primary goal,” said Smith.

The minister added providing daytime drop-in options is vital to ensure fewer Manitobans will suffer from exposure to extreme weather conditions. Smith noted this would offer a safe, supportive place for people to connect with wraparound services and visit with friends, and would lead to safer communities.

“While we all know that overnight is a time where we need everyone to be safe, it is during the day that we can have the biggest impact on helping someone transform their lives,” said Tessa Blaikie Whitecloud, CEO, Siloam Mission. “This is where we can have meaningful housing conversations, connect people with employment and income assistance, access medical care and more. It is during the day that we solve homelessness. A good night’s rest is only a first step.”

The one-year pilot project that began in October with a $2.6-million funding commitment will allow the following agencies to operate as 24-7 service hubs through March 31, 2024:

  • Siloam Mission in Winnipeg, receiving $600,000 for daytime shelter operations;
  • Main Street Project in Winnipeg, receiving $600,000 for daytime shelter operations;
  • Brandon Neighbourhood Renewal Corporation in Brandon, receiving $350,000 for the Blue Door Drop-in Centre for daytime shelter operations;
  • Oscar’s Place in The Pas, receiving $250,000 for daytime shelter operations; and
  • Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak in Thompson, receiving $350,000 for daytime operations.

Additionally, the minister noted $450,000 is allocated for a new Swan River Drop-in Centre, slated to open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday as the first provincially funded service in the region meant to serve people experiencing homelessness.