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Winnipeg has a new pop-up shelter to give warm beds in freezing weather

A new, expanded pop-up shelter is coming to Winnipeg this winter to help more people experiencing homelessness find a warm place to stay overnight.

The city and End Homelessness Winnipeg-Reaching Home are giving $265,000 to fund the expanded shelter capacity at Siloam Mission.

It will be staffed by Siloam Mission, 1JustCity, Main Street Project and Sunshine House.

Mayor Scott Gillingham says homelessness continues to be one of the most pressing needs in the city.

“As the weather gets colder, one of the biggest challenges we can have in moments in this city, especially in the winter months, is getting people for example out of transit shelters and out of encampments, and into warm, safe places where they can be connected to appropriate supports,” Gillingham said at a news conference Tuesday.

The city gave $200,000 as part of the $1 million earmarked by council in the 2023 budget to expand 24/7 safe space partnerships and pilot new extreme weather initiatives.

End Homelessness Winnipeg-Reaching Home contributed $65,000.

The pop-up shelter will open depending on three factors; the overnight temperature feels like -10 C or colder; all emergency shelters are consistently full; and a minimum of four staff are present.

The decision to open will be made three days in advance, and pop-ups will run from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m.

People who use the service will also have access to snacks, coffee, and activities, like games and art kits.

Siloam Mission CEO Tessa Blaikie Whitecloud says too often they’ve had to turn people away when their shelter is at capacity.

“The reality on the ground is that we still don’t have enough space, and this will change that.”


Meantime, Gillingham says the need for permanent housing remains critical, pointing to Monday’s decision by his executive policy committee to approve changes to zoning rules, allowing new housing developments to go up without public hearings.

The change is needed for the city to access $192 million in federal funding to expand housing, including affordable units.

“We know that we need more housing in the City of Winnipeg. It’s critical that we have more space available, more housing available for individuals, especially those who are struggling unsheltered right now,” he said.

It was a sentiment echoed by End Homelessness Winnipeg president and CEO Jason Whitford.

He says while the pop-up is aimed at giving everyone a place to stay and avoid loss of life, the ultimate solution is adding more affordable housing.

“All roads lead to housing, and the different paths will be throughout the housing spectrum,” he said.

- With files from CTV’s Jeff Keele Top Stories

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