This week focuses on ending homelessness. There’s a lot of misunderstanding about issues related to homelessness, and the myths we’ve covered in the previous weeks can help you participate in ending homelessness.

#1 Housing

Cities that have been effective in reducing and ending homelessness ensure an adequate supply of safe, affordable housing to meet local needs.

#2 Housing First

Housing First objectives is effective in reducing homelessness among those with co-occurring mental health and substance use challenges.

Winnipeg continues to use a Housing First model, although the limited availability of low-income housing poses a barrier to more widespread implementation.

#3 Housing as a Human Right

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights includes housing as a basic human right. The Government of Canada recognized the Right to Housing in 2019.

Implementing this right can help shift the paradigm from a commodity to a basic human right, driving improvements o policies and procedures that can help to end homelessness.

#4 Truth & Reconciliation

Indigenous peoples’ experiences of homelessness are a direct result of colonial policies and practices such as Residential Schools. Reconciliation means working with Indigenous people on Indigenous-led solutions to homelessness.

#5 Supports for Families

Family or relationship breakdown is a leading cause of homelessness, according to the Winnipeg Street Census. Ending homelessness requires robust support for children and parents impacted by family breakdown, separations, conflict, violence, and abuse. These supports must include housing, mental health, life skills, and culturally appropriate healing services.

#6 Supports for Youth

The Winnipeg Street Census found that more than half of those experiencing homelessness had been in CFS care as youth. Nearly 2/3 of these youth experienced homelessness within one year of leaving CFS care. By ensuring youth aging out of CFS care have the support needed to find and keep housing, we can prevent homelessness.

#7 Community Reintegration

Those experiencing homelessness are vulnerable to criminalization and may not be able to adhere to probation rules. By ensuring people have community reintegration supports, including housing, we can end a jails-to-homelessness cycle.

#8 Indigenous-led Housing

To address the crisis of Indigenous homelessness in Winnipeg, it is imperative that new homes, and the housing resources that accompany them, are culturally appropriate and informed by Indigenous principles and understandings of family and home. Indigenous organizations are in the best position to lead and operate such initiatives from a culturally appropriate lens.

#9 Lived-Experience Leadership

Listening to the voices of people with lived experiences of homelessness is essential for ensuring that efforts to prevent and end homelessness are appropriate and sustainable.

Peer-led outreach and advocacy efforts are vital to building networks of trust and understanding that connect individuals with the support and inform policy improvements.

#10 Coordinated Access

A Coordinated Access system is the process by which people experiencing, or at-risk of homelessness are directed to community-level access points, where they are assessed and matched with the most appropriate available housing resources.

Providing coordinated access to housing support is an important step toward preventing and reducing homelessness.

#11 Income Supports

Housing is affordable when it costs 30% or less of a household’s income. A single person receiving ElA, renting an average bachelor’s apartment in Winnipeg, needs to spend 87% of their income on housing.

Income supports like ElA, and rent supplements like Rent Assist or the Canada-Manitoba Housing Benefit must close the housing affordability gap for those at risk of homelessness.

#12 Eviction Prevention

Tenant-landlord cooperation and mediation programs, as well as emergency financial assistance measures like Rent Banks and Community Loan Programs, can help to prevent individuals and families from entering homelessness due to evictions.

Supporting tenants to maintain their housing can help to prevent homelessness.

#13 Zoning & Regulation

Winnipeg’s zoning and regulations do not currently align with the city’s housing development needs as outlined in the 2020 City of Winnipeg Comprehensive Housing Needs Assessment.

Updating zoning and regulations can encourage the development of urgently needed low-income housing so that our city can advance progress to ending homelessness.

#14 Social Financing for Housing

Capital and operating funds to develop new low-income housing in Winnipeg have dwindled in recent decades.

While all levels of government support some level of housing, these efforts do not meet current needs. In the context of an economic downturn and growing government deficits, innovative and efficient social financing models are required.

#15 Collective Impact

A Collective Impact approach coordinates stakeholders in government, community, and the private sector to work together to build a common agenda for ending homelessness. These efforts are encouraged and facilitated by a “backbone” organization, such as End Homelessness Winnipeg.

No single organization or level of government can end homelessness on its own. It takes all of us working together.

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