TREATY 1 TERRITORY, WINNIPEG – Elected representatives from downtown Winnipeg are calling for immediate investments in social housing, frontline community based-organizations, and low-barrier safe spaces for the unsheltered and precariously housed communities in our city.
Downtown Winnipeg has been one of the most impacted urban health districts in Manitoba by COVID-19. Meanwhile, many individuals and families are unable to follow public health guidelines and social distancing measures because of a lack of adequate housing options.
Not only are members of the unsheltered community at increased risk of contracting COVID-19, but there have now been four recorded cases of Trench Fever in the city, a disease of extreme poverty. This is unacceptable.
It is critical that we adequately fund community-based organizations that are providing low-barrier spaces and life-sustaining services to the unsheltered community.
All orders of government must act to end this severe public health and human rights crisis.
Leah Gazan, Member of Parliament for Winnipeg Centre
Bernadette Smith, Member of the Legislative Assembly for Point Douglas
Uzoma Asagwara, Member of the Legislative Assembly for Union Station
Malaya Marcelino, Member of the Legislative Assembly for Notre Dame
Lisa Naylor, Member of the Legislative Assembly for Wolseley
Sherri Rollins, City Councillor for Fort Rouge East Fort Garry
Cindy Gilroy, City Councillor for Daniel McIntyre
Vivian Santos, City Councillor for Point Douglas
Leah Gazan, MP for Winnipeg Centre:
“On December 9th 2020, the House of Commons unanimously voted in favour of my motion that recognizes the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on the shelterless community, many of whom are Indigenous Peoples, seniors, youth, newcomers, 2SLGBTQ+ individuals and persons with disabilities. The motion called for immediate investments in housing and low-barrier spaces, a commitment that housing be respected as a human right, and an urban Indigenous led housing strategy.
This commitment must be met with action. While the Federal Rapid Housing Initiative provided some necessary funds, it was insufficient, and it is critical that future monies go to organizations that provide low-barrier services.”
Bernadette Smith, MLA for Point Douglas:
“Now more than ever, access to affordable housing is crucial to keeping families safe and preventing the spread of COVID-19. Signs of a housing crisis are everywhere in our city, from people sleeping in bus shacks to reports of shelters turning people away because of a lack of capacity. Under the PC government, Manitoba has lost 500 affordable housing units, failed to build a single new unit and cut nearly $100 million from its maintenance budget. Manitoba families deserve governments that invest in affordable housing, especially in a pandemic.”
Uzoma Asagwara, MLA for Union Station:
“What we are seeing in Downtown Winnipeg is a crisis of unmet basic needs. Immediate action and investments into housing must be made to ensure vulnerable citizens are not left behind during this pandemic and that we never again see the re-emergence of century old, preventable diseases like Trench Fever.
Community organizations have the expertise and relationships to provide strategic and appropriate supports, interventions and services. It’s imperative that they are equipped with the resources needed to meaningfully engage with those who are vulnerable and within our communities.”
Malaya Marcelino, MLA for Notre Dame:
“Unsheltered community members trying to survive are looking for warm spaces to stay. Our community is calling on all levels of government to ensure that the most vulnerable among us can live in dignity. Our community is also calling on the Province to ensure that seniors, families, and individuals residing in Manitoba Housing properties, including in the Notre Dame constituency, can be safe and secure in their own homes.”
Lisa Naylor, MLA for Wolseley:
“Shelter is one of the most basic human needs. With safe and secure housing, individuals feel a sense of belonging and self-esteem which can help support the pursuit of employment, education or addiction treatment.
The pandemic has been hardest on those who already struggle with mental health issues, addictions, homelessness or poverty. Many organizations in the Wolseley Constituency do incredible work to help our unsheltered community members but are also struggling without the financial resources and attention of this government. Our provincial and federal governments must stop ignoring the health impacts of poverty and homelessness and make affordable housing a priority.”
Sherri Rollins, City Councillor for Fort Rouge East Fort Garry:
“Downtown Winnipeg has high COVID numbers, Trench Fever, and gratefully, Indigenous-led community based organizations stepping up every single day to keep people fed, healthy and safe. They deserve our deep gratitude and our deep support. Our human rights city needs a federal government to prioritize housing as a human right including reflecting this in their programs like the Rapid Housing Initiative. Winnipeg needs immediate new investments in low barrier spaces, harm reduction funding and an urban Indigenous-led housing strategy.”
Cindy Gilroy, City Councillor for Daniel McIntyre:
“We must commit to low barrier housing options that meet the needs of some of our most vulnerable people who are experiencing addiction and mental health issues. By working together with all levels of government we can and must support housing to meets those needs. Funding low barrier housing provides a source of income to housing providers and community organizations to provide the needed supports for Winnipeggers facing homelessness and housing insecurity. We have a real need for these housing options and I’m committed to working with all my colleagues to make low barrier housing a reality.”
Vivian Santos, City Councillor for Point Douglas:
“Secured barrier free housing, poverty, mental health are complex interconnected issues that require all levels of government to work together. We must all acknowledge our colonial system failure and begin investing and supporting the solutions that address the trauma and root causes.
Now is the time to work together for education and community reconciliation.”