$205K in Downtown BIZ Funding to Leverage Nearly $1 Million in Projects Aimed at Ending Homelessness


March 5, 2015


Downtown Winnipeg – Last fall, at the city’s windiest intersection, Portage and Main, over 150 of the city’s movers and shakers camped out in the cold for the 4th annual CEO Sleepout, to raise funds and to get people talking about homelessness. Today, the $205,000 raised was officially granted to Graffiti Art Programming Inc., Red Road Lodge, Siloam Mission, Artbeat Studio Inc., Macdonald Youth Services, and Union Gospel Mission in order to connect those experiencing homelessness or those at risk of becoming homeless with adequate housing and employment; providing these individuals with valuable work experience, life skills and training, while building self-confidence and self-sufficiency.

With $205,000 from the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ, nearly $1 million in programming will be leveraged and 50 homeless individuals will be employed to work 19,524 hours in 2015, contributing to downtown in a positive and meaningful manner. Since 2011, over $600,000 has been raised by the private sector, helping to employ 137 people experiencing homelessness for more than 51,000 hours of employment — with many of these individuals returning to school or finding permanent full-time work. The 5th annual CEO Sleepout date has been set for Thursday, September 24, 2015.

Graffiti Art Programming ($25,000)

  • 4 participants hired for 3,200 hours of employment
  • Program will connect at risk youth with job shadowing or work placement opportunities within the downtown. In addition, youth will engage in hands-on, structured tasks involving dance, visual arts, community building, and beautification projects downtown.

Red Road Lodge ($40,000)

  • 10 participants hired for 4,130 hours of employment
  • Participants will engage in cleaning and beautification projects on Main Street through litter removal and snow shoveling, in addition to community art projects with individuals living at Thunderbird House and Salvation Army. The program targets individuals on EIA Disability who face significant social and economic barriers.

Siloam Mission ($45,000)

  • 8 participants hired for 4,554 hours of employment
  • Participants will engage in the beautification of downtown through litter removal, snow shoveling, and event/festival clean up, collectively walking over a thousand kilometers.

Artbeat Studio Inc. ($30,000)

  • 15 participants hired for 3,000 hours of employment
  • Participants will manage a boutique gallery at Portage Place, an initiative that will provide career path development opportunities in vocational areas such as retail sales, customer service, education, and general gallery management. Participants are marginalized individuals who have lived experience of mental illness.

Macdonald Youth Services ($20,000)

  • 8 participants hired for 2,560 hours of employment
  • At risk youth will be provided hands-on job experience by connecting with businesses in the downtown.

Union Gospel Mission ($45,000)

  • 5 participants hired for 2,080 hours of employment
  • Participants will engage in downtown beautification and placemaking efforts by supporting set up for downtown events and festivals and upkeep of public space through placement of bistro tables/chairs in front of businesses, planting, litter pickup, and general maintenance.

“The downtown business community believes the future of our city and our downtown depends on whether or not we are ready and willing to tackle the issue of homelessness,” said Stefano Grande, Executive Director of the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ. “We can make a better city and a better downtown by simply helping people who are homeless in a progressive way: providing a home, helping them keep it and providing support in dealing with their challenges.”

He added: “The private sector has a stake and responsibility to put an end to homelessness. We stand united ready to work with government and not-for-profits to further educate the business community and raise funds for housing and employment initiatives – strategic initiatives that provide tangible support and hope for the homeless. It’s time for government and community to get going.”

About the CEO Sleepout

Since 2011, the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ has made a commitment to help address long-term social and economic costs of homelessness. Recently, the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ organized its fourth annual CEO Sleepout in 2014 which recruited and mobilized over 150 leaders from the private and public sectors to help bring attention and awareness to the intricate and complex issue of homelessness in our city and downtown community. Over $200,000 was raised to support social agencies in their efforts to employ their participants and in providing them with quality-of-life supports and access to housing. Since 2011, over $600,000 has been raised by the private sector, helping to employ 137 people experiencing homelessness for more than 51,000 hours of employment — with many of these individuals returning to school or finding permanent full-time work. This event has also ignited a desire from the private/public sector to work together towards the creation of a long-term strategy to end homelessness through the Winnipeg Poverty Reduction Council’s (WPRC) Task Force to End Homelessness, co-chaired by SEED Winnipeg’s Cindy Coker and RBC’s Rob Johnston. Johnston has taken part in the CEO Sleepout annually since the event’s inception.

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For more information, please contact:

Jason Syvixay, Managing Director, Tel: (204) 958-4635; jason@downtownwinnipegbiz.com

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