A new and Indigenous-led warming space that will provide overnight beds and temporary shelter for those experiencing homelessness this winter opened its doors this week.
On Wednesday End Homelessness Winnipeg, an organization that works in the city with the goal of preventing and ending homelessness announced the opening of N'Dinawemak - Our Relatives' Place at 190 Disraeli in the Point Douglas area of the city.
According to End Homelessness, the Indigenous-led and low barrier resource will provide an immediate around the clock winter warming space for up to 150 people, while also offering food, showers, lockers, and “sleeping and non-sleeping options for keeping warm.”
While speaking in November when plans for the shelter were first announced, End Homelessness CEO Jason Whitford said the shelter will work with a goal of offering temporary shelter to those who need it, but also look for long-term solutions as they work to help people find permanent shelter and affordable housing options.
“Our objective is to provide short-term emergency housing and work with individuals towards longer-term housing solutions,” Whitford said. “It is hoped this Indigenous-led resource will provide additional warming options for people experiencing homelessness this winter, while permanent housing alternatives are created.”
And with temperatures likely to continue dropping over the next few months of winter in Winnipeg, Whitford also said that the facility will provide a safer and warmer option than where he knows some are currently finding shelter.
“Our priority is to engage and invite individuals currently residing in unsafe circumstances including encampments and other public spaces,” he said.
On Wednesday the organization also thanked the provincial government for their contribution to the shelter, as the province announced back in November that it was investing $1.5 million to help create the warming space.
At the time Premier Heather Stefanson said that the COVID-19 pandemic has only exasperated existing issues of homelessness in Winnipeg, and that the province was planning to make investments moving forward to combat the issue.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has been, and continues to be the most significant challenge of our time,” Stefanson said in November. “It has affected the lives and the livelihood of many and all Manitobans, especially the most vulnerable in our society.
“For many of us, the snow and colder weather we’re experiencing is simply an inconvenience, but for many Manitobans, the snow and colder weather present a far more serious threat. We’ve recognized there’s a need for more low-barrier, Indigenous-led support for citizens experiencing homelessness or housing instability.”
End Homelessness said support workers will also offer transportation to the facility, and actively look for vulnerable people that would benefit by being offered a chance to go to the shelter.
“Winnipeg’s Downtown Community Safety Partnership will drive around Winnipeg this winter picking up vulnerable people and delivering them to the Point Douglas site,” End Homelessness said.
The commercial building at 190 Disraeli was provided to the organization through a private-sector partner.
— With files from James Snell
— Dave Baxter is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.
Dave Baxter, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Sun