Ending Homelessness Through Supportive Housing & Employment

 
 

Background

Employment and supportive housing are crucial elements in eradicating homelessness. Homelessness cannot be ended without homes, and employment provides confirmation that an individual is recognized as a functioning member of society (Rio, Ware, Tucker, Martinez, 2008). The Downtown BIZ believes that working towards long-term solutions to social issues like homelessness are essential for our downtown and city to thrive. It is estimated that there are anywhere from 3,000 to 15,000 homeless people in Winnipeg. Projects like the Bell Hotel, Madison Lodge, and the conversion of the Occidental Hotel to Red Road Lodge, are making a difference in addressing this complex and intricate community issue.

Strengths

  • The Change for the Better campaign helps homeless individuals get into paid permanent employment
  • The BIZ hosts the CEO sleep out to raise awareness in the downtown business community about solutions for homelessness

Weaknesses

  • Many homeless people receive social assistance but it is usually an insufficient amount (The University of Winnipeg)
  • Vacancy rates for bachelors is 0.5% and the cost is higher than the social assistance amount (The University of Winnipeg)
  • Winnipeg’s homeless population is especially visible in the downtown core (The University of Winnipeg)

Threats

  • Many homeless people suffer from mental health issues
  • Many homeless people report having been physically and sexually abused in the past
  • Many supportive housing programs are contingent on compliance with certain rules (which can make it difficult for homeless individuals with mental health and substance abuse issues to remain housed)

Opportunities

  • Winnipeg was one of the first 5 cities that were provided funding for the Housing First At Home/Chez Soi program (an Aboriginal focused program that provides housing as quickly as possible and without prerequisites)
  • The downtown BIZ is already aware of the specific issues surrounding homelessness in downtown Winnipeg and is taking initial steps towards addressing it

Option 1 – Increase awareness

  • Continue hosting events like the CEO sleep out
  • Educate the public about how difficult it is to come out of homelessness
  • Educate the public about the importance of having a home and having permanent employment in eradicating homelessness

Option 2 – Provide supportive housing

  • Offer housing that is supportive of individuals with mental health issues/substance abuse
  • Create incentives for developers to include supportive housing units

Option 3 – Provide jobs for homeless individuals

  • Create a program that helps homeless individuals find work close to their home so they don’t have to rely on public transit or a car
  • Create training programs that help reintroduce homeless individuals to working
  • Provide incentives for downtown businesses to hire homeless individuals