By Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG — The Manitoba government offered more money Monday to fight homelessness and help people struggling to pay rent.
Among the changes is a doubling of annual subsidies to shelters, transitional housing services and homeless outreach programs, to $15.1 million from $6.1 million.
The government is also boosting the Rent Assist subsidy for people on employment and income assistance who rent in the private market. In January, the subsidy will rise to 77 per cent of median market rent, up from 75 per cent. That should mean an extra $34 to $70 per month, depending on the size of the recipient’s household, the government said.
The announcement follows growing concerns, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, about the number of people sleeping in bus shelters or in encampments beside the city’s rivers.
“A bus shelter is not an acceptable place to live,” said Premier Heather Stefanson.
“I’m confident that these initiatives will have a strong positive impact on individuals, their families and our community as a whole.”
The Progressive Conservative government is also promising $2 million for a new job-training program for people coming out of jail to help them secure a stable income and housing.
The executive director of the Main Street Project shelter in Winnipeg welcomed the changes and said the extra shelter funding will go a long way.
“We know that shelters are not the solution to homelessness, but they are a step to keep people off the streets and safe,” Jamil Mahmood said.
“This investment today will mean that we will be able to provide safer spaces, better quality services, better pathways into housing.”
Scott Gillingham, who was elected Winnipeg mayor last week, has promised to build new housing for the homeless.
His campaign platform included plans to build about 270 small housing units on six parcels of land owned or to be purchased by the city.