The Downtown BIZ and our members believe 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, the conversion of the Occidental Hotel to Red Road Lodge, are making a difference in addressing this complex and intricate community issue. 500 chronically homeless people with mental illnesses were housed via At Home/Chez Soi, a provincial/federal pilot program that provided supportive housing.
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.
Our current programs range from fundraising for employment to running preventative outreach programs. They are: