The Manitoba government announced today, that as part of the government's first-ever homelessness strategy - 'A Place for Everyone' - $6.87 million is being invested to support community-wide approaches to prevent chronic homelessness and build stronger communities across the province.
In a media release, Families Minister Rochelle Squires said, "Our government understands that addressing homelessness calls for a co-ordinated multi-faceted approach that includes community-led solutions to meet the needs of people who are precariously housed or experiencing homelessness. Budget 2023 provides historic support to implement proactive measures that help prevent chronic homelessness in Manitoba."
The minister noted funding will go towards strengthening existing services, helping those experiencing homelessness, and providing support to prevent homelessness across Manitoba.
Many youth aging out of the child welfare system in Manitoba are at increased risk of experiencing homelessness, the minister noted, adding that funding of $4.68 million will extend supports for youth transitioning out of care. The Manitoba government will also expand the eligibility criteria for the Supports for Young Adults Grant to provide more financial assistance and housing supports beyond the age 21. This commitment builds on the over $7 million allocated to extend supports for youth exiting care since 2020 and is over and above the existing funding currently provided to extend support for young adults aged 18 to 21.
An additional $1.3 million will support extending the Housing Supports Initiative until 2025. The Manitoba Non-Profit Housing Association created this initiative in 2021 with a one-time grant. This funding will extend the association's support to 19 organizations, including the Brandon Neighbourhood Renewal Corporation and Westman Immigrant Services. These organizations across Manitoba work at eviction prevention, organizational capacity building and case management services that help proactively prevent homelessness.
The Manitoba Rent Relief Fund, developed in 2021, will also be extended to allow for further program evaluation. The fund was set up as a two-year pilot of a rent bank model and was also developed by the Manitoba Non-Profit Housing Association. The fund helps low- to moderate-income households secure and stabilize housing by providing interest-free loans for rent, utilities, damage deposits and first-month rent payments. Rent Relief Fund employees also provide referrals to other income and support services.
The Manitoba government will launch an application process later this spring to create a Community Advisory Committee to support the implementation of its homelessness strategy, 'A Place for Everyone'. The committee will also assist in evaluating the success of the strategy. Approximately 10 to 15 Manitobans with experience in the sector and representing youth, women and Indigenous Manitobans will serve two-year terms on the committee.
Additional funding to support the homelessness strategy includes:
- increasing the annual Bed Bug Grant Program to $400,000 from $200,000 to assist community agencies to support clients in dealing with pests and prevent homelessness due to infestation;
- $100,000 to expand and better integrate the homeless individuals and families information system database to reduce barriers for people who experience homelessness that move between communities in Manitoba;
- $100,000 to develop an advertising campaign to address the stigma of homelessness and reduce the discrimination individuals experience in trying to access goods and services across Manitoba communities;
- $330,000 increase in annual funding to Samaritan House to operate its Safe & Warm shelter in Brandon; and
- expanding the Homeless Outreach Mentor Program by increasing the annual funding to the Community Health and Housing Association Westman Region Inc. in Brandon to $185,000 from $25,000.
"Samaritan House is grateful for the continuing support to have a year-round emergency overnight shelter in all weather," said Barbara McNish, executive director, Samaritan House Ministries. "This funding and support for homelessness helps ensure people have a safe and warm place to sleep, have a meal and connect."
"This funding will allow us to expand our homeless outreach mentoring services in Brandon. With this investment, our organization will now have the resources to hire additional staff, who will provide direct support at street level to those experiencing homelessness in our community," said Stephanie Lockerby, executive director, Community Health and Housing Association Westman Region Inc.
As part of its homelessness strategy, the Manitoba government will also invest more than $126 million to fund up to 700 new social housing units this year and introduce new wrap-around services to help those experiencing homelessness.
To read the Manitoba government's homelessness strategy, visit https://www.gov.mb.ca/fs/homelessness