The Manitoba government is making investments in four initiatives in order to make communities safer and modernize the province’s homelessness emergency response.
Premier Heather Stefanson and Families Minister Rochelle Squires announced the investments on Monday, saying the funding will go to community-based organizations that work with people experiencing or at risk of homelessness in Winnipeg, Brandon, Thompson, and The Pas.
The Manitoba government will be increasing its annual funding rates to shelters, transitional housing services, and homeless outreach members from $6.1 million to $15.1 million. This extra $9 million will go towards services that respond to homelessness, care for the immediate needs of those experiencing homelessness, support people in the early stages of housing, and connect people to housing, mental health support, and addiction support.
“The path to a safe community is supporting those most vulnerable first, which is why we’re here today,” said Stefanson at Monday’s news conference at Siloam Mission.
“This journey will take a community effort to solve these complex issues and I want you to know that our government is listening, we are taking action and we’re getting things done for the benefit of all Manitobans.”
The Department of Families will also provide $1.7 million to N’Dinawemak’s 24-7 operations, an Indigenous-led resource that provides a warm space and shelter for the city’s most vulnerable.
The province also announced it is deepening the subsidy level to make rent more affordable for those who receive Employment and Income Assistance (EIA).
Currently, EIA Rent Assist is indexed to 75 per cent of the median market rent, but beginning in January 2023 it will increase to 77 per cent. This will result in maximum monthly benefits increasing between $34 and $70, depending on the size of the household.
“Poverty, housing instability, and homelessness have a negative impact, not only on the individuals directly experiencing these issues, but on our communities as a whole,” Squires said.
“To improve the lives of all Manitobans, we must support our province’s most vulnerable citizens on their journey towards healing and independence.”
The final initiative announced on Monday is aimed at preventing Manitobans from experiencing homelessness. The Department of Families will be issuing a request for proposals (RFP) to collaborate with a community organization for up to $2 million for a post-bail job-training program.
The program is intended to deliver employment and training programming with personalized supports for people on bail and who are receiving EIA. The government noted that helping those involved in the criminal justice system gain employment will lower their likelihood to re-offend.
“Today’s announcement is a good step. It’s important we support our shelter system, but we understand people should not people living on the street – a bus shelter is not an acceptable place to live,” the premier said.
“I’m confident that these initiatives will have a strong positive impact on individuals, their families and our community as a whole.”