‘If you want to say - you can’t sleep here – we must have somewhere safe for them to stay.’ - Robert-Falcon Ouellette
Today we announced that as your Mayor the city would fully support End Homelessness Winnipeg and would bring Winnipeg into the ‘Built For Zero’ group of communities whose goal is to end chronic and veteran homelessness, by expanding emergency, transitional and affordable housing. (1)
Last April, through an ‘Interim Street Census’, End Homelessness Winnipeg found that there were 1127 Winnipeggers experiencing homeless. (2)
We see it in the bus shelters and the back lanes, our parks and riverbanks, homelessness is everywhere in our city. If you want to tell them - you can’t sleep here - we must have somewhere safe for them to stay.
To build the city we all want, we need the compassion and strength to address the homelessness crisis now, by expanding emergency shelters and adding transitional and affordable housing units.
PROVIDING EMERGENCY HOUSING
‘Emergency to transitional housing to independence, there is a path that doesn’t have to lead to the streets.’ – Robert-Falcon Ouellette
As Mayor one of our first priorities will be to work with community groups to expand emergency housing.
With winter coming, if we don’t want people living in our bus shelters, setting up camps in our parks and along the riverbanks, the city must be able to provide a safe place out of the cold for people to stay.
As well emergency housing is important in disrupting the entry point to chronic homelessness.
Youth suffering from neglect, women leaving an abusive relationship or someone who has lost their job and been evicted, emergency housing is important in making sure people don’t end up on the street for the long term.
Emergency housing to transitional housing to independence, there is a path that doesn’t have to lead to the streets.
LEADERSHIP TO FINALLY ADDRESS HOMELESSNESS
‘Our goal will be to support the people and organizations who want to provide housing.’ - Robert-Falcon Ouellette
As Mayor we will work with council, each level of government, Indigenous governments, community groups, anyone to get the job done to end homelessness
While there are a number of housing providers and community groups that focus on housing, there can be a gap between providing housing and the development of new housing.
The city, province and federal governments all have programs designed for housing but some community groups who look to provide housing lack the experience or resources to navigate the application process. (3) (4) (5) (6)
The city must provide its full leadership to help housing groups who want to end homelessness. From design, zoning approval, program application and funding, our goal will be to support the people and organizations who want to provide housing.
So let’s get it done.
As Mayor we will fully support the efforts of End Homelessness Winnipeg and it’s ‘Reaching Home’ program funded in part by the federal government’s housing strategy. (7) (8)
Additionally, Ouellette committed as Mayor to;
1. CREATE 1,340 additional housing units within 8 years based on identified local needs that will include transitional, short term and long-term hosing options.
2. ELIMINATE homelessness among youth who leave home due to abuse or neglect our who have ‘aged out’ of Child Family Services (CFS)
3. EXPAND the use of Homelessness Individuals & Families Information System (HIFIS) to 45 homeless-serving organizations and programs as part of a coordinated access system to make sure that all community groups are working together. (9)
4. WORK with Indigenous governments and the federal government to ensure that First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples living in Winnipeg have their housing needs met.
5. CONVENE regular meetings of all elected municipal, provincial, federal, Indigenous governments, community groups, businesses, and homeless representatives to discuss what we can all be doing to effectively deal with this challenge.
For too long homelessness and the reasons for it have been ignored and as Mayor we will no longer turn a blind eye to this crisis.’
AFFORDABLE HOUSING IN WINNIPEG
‘We will work with any group, anywhere in the city, to build affordable housing. To build the city we all want, we need to build affordable housing.’ - Robert-Falcon Ouellette
In August we announced that to encourage the redevelopment of vacant lots, in particular downtown parking lots, by taxing them as if a building still stood. While to do so would require approval from the Manitoba Government, Ouellette said that if implemented the new tax would bring in an estimated $65-million in additional revenue for the city, with some of it earmarked for affordable housing development grants. (10)
To build the city we all want we need a vibrant downtown. This means people living downtown and ensuring easy access to affordable housing and that new builds include affordable housing and mixed use units with rent geared to income.
Ouellette continued by pointing out that 20% of downtown is covered by surface parking lots and 20% of that is owned by the various levels of government. (11)
These government parking lots provide an excellent opportunity for development that include affordable housing. We will work with all levels of government and anyone wanting to build housing to use these lands to support their efforts.
While the early opportunity is to build affordable housing downtown, more affordable housing is needed throughout the city
We will work with any group, anywhere in the city, to build affordable housing.
To build the city we all want, we need to build affordable housing.