What about the homeless? How can we help? That was one of the questions raised by a member of our Residents of the Exchange group when we met with Mayor Bowman a number of weeks ago.
Mayor Bowman acknowledges homelessness is a problem and says there are unfortunately people in our city who have fallen through the cracks of the social services provided. He has committed $150,000 to a United Way plan to end homelessness in Winnipeg. I have to admit this seems to me a paltry sum to address such a major issue especially when I read that in order to end homelessness the city of Medicine Hat provides housing for all homeless people at a cost of $20,000 per person a year. However Mayor Bowman is hopeful that provincial and federal governments will also provide financial assistance.
I found this April 2015 report from the Community Task Force to End Homelessness the group set up to deal with the United Way initiative but a year later their group is still very much in the organizational stage setting up a web of committees, boards and working groups and appointing directors for them.
I attended a fundraiser recently for a homeless shelter in Steinbach and it was clear considerable money from private citizens and the business community was being used to provide alternatives for the homeless. I wonder if this is happening in Winnipeg as well.
This is an issue I know I need to learn more about. I walk down Main Street and down Selkirk Avenue many times a month to visit schools and volunteer in a Thrift Store and always encounter people who are homeless and are asking for money. This also happens almost every time I walk down Portage Avenue on my way to work. I am never quite sure what to do. I give out change if I have some. I should stop and talk as well, but I am often in a hurry. My husband Dave always takes time to chat with homeless people. I need to learn from him.