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Investing in the future is how we will tackle homelessness in Winnipeg

Investing in the Future is how to tackling homelessness in Winnipeg
Tackling homelessness in Winnipeg (File Photo)

Guest Columnist, Kevin Klein - A former Manitoba cabinet minister, a former city councillor and a former Chair of the Winnipeg Police Service Board

Winnipeg, April 21, 2024 - I stand firm in my belief that addressing homelessness is not just a moral imperative but a critical investment in the future of our city. It's time for our government to rethink its approach, move beyond mere handouts, and embrace comprehensive strategies that yield long-term solutions.


Currently, our government disperses a few million dollars to various groups, more or less in grants, without a cohesive plan in place. This fragmented approach has led to inefficiencies and a lack of coordination among service providers. We have three or four "watch patrols" scattered across the city, but they barely scratch the surface of the underlying issues contributing to homelessness.


It's imperative that we shift our mindset and start thinking about the Return on Investment (ROI) when it comes to combating homelessness. Merely throwing money at the problem without a strategic plan is akin to putting a band-aid on a gaping wound.


Recently, it came to light that Mark Chipman is contemplating an investment to provide transitional housing for individuals experiencing significant hardships in life. Chipman recognizes the potential return on investment in such initiatives in people and in our downtown, a perspective often overlooked by elected officials. It's crucial for elected officials to adopt a similar mindset and prioritize investment in comprehensive solutions.


That's why, while running for office, I committed to declaring a state of emergency on homelessness in Winnipeg. We need bold and proactive measures to address this crisis head-on. One innovative solution I propose is repurposing trailers commonly used in northern mining and oil camps as temporary housing for the homeless.


By acquiring these trailers and strategically locating them where government support services are readily available, we can provide individuals experiencing homelessness with more than just shelter. Each trailer unit would come equipped with a lock and key, offering a sense of security and privacy. Moreover, it would provide residents with something many take for granted: an actual mailing address. Having a stable address is a crucial step in helping individuals transition off the streets and into stable housing situations.


It's disheartening to see promises made by other candidates, such as Wab Kinew's election promise to end homelessness within a year, have seen little meaningful action. Spending over $2 million on a supervised injection site is not a solution; it fails to address the root causes of homelessness, and providing treatment is the only answer.


We cannot continue to rely on small handouts to disjointed groups that aren't working together towards a common goal. It's time to bring all stakeholders to the table and forge partnerships that will make our efforts more efficient and effective.



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