For decades, housing advocates across the country have been working diligently to raise awareness about the major housing issues facing thousands upon thousands of people, especially more vulnerable populations. Safe and affordable housing is one of the foundations of the health and wellbeing of any individual. Without adequate housing, it is also harder to find employment and to seek out services and supports. Without affordable housing, people struggled to make ends meet and more vulnerable populations are being left behind.
Here in Manitoba today, there are tens of thousands of people in core housing need. More vulnerable populations who are disproportionately affected include people who are living with developmental disabilities, seniors, people living with chronic illnesses, mental health challenges, new immigrants and refugees, people with limited income and of course, people who are experiencing homelessness.
Covid-19 has shone a light on people experiencing homelessness who felt they had no safe space to go this winter, and on those vulnerable populations who struggled with the added challenge of being isolated and alone.
The barriers to accessible and affordable housing are varied and complex; in general, we’re living with the effects of decades of de-investment in the social safety net. While these changes are discouraging, there are people and organisations who have created models that are working, designing new models that will lead to more solutions and continue to raise much needed awareness that will lead to change.
Many of our Network organizations have been involved in what we would call “housing plus.” They have designed housing solutions, but also provided programs, services and support to vulnerable populations so that they can reach their full potential.
St.Amant has been a champion for community housing for those living with developmental disabilities and autism. Actionmarguerite, Charités Despins, Dr. Gendreau Personal Care Home and Winnipegosis & District Health Centre have been focused on our aging population and our frail elderly. Abri Marguerite works in partnership with l’Accueil francophone to support the housing and services needed to welcome new immigrants and refugees into our community. Sara Riel has done the same by combining housing and support services for those living with mental health challenges.
Réseau Compassion Network is exploring opportunities to see what else we might do to increase the housing capacity of our existing Network organizations and the people we serve. We are also interested in seeing how we might support other organizations that are trying to do the same. We can’t do it all, be we can certainly try to do more.
There are others within our network and of course across the province doing this important work. If we can extend some of our time and energy to support the momentum in creating housing, programs and supports that connect the needs of our communities with outcomes that foster compassion, inclusion and independence and potential, we know that we can make a difference in the lives of many.
Enjoy this edition of the newsletter.
 Core housing need is defined as housing that needs major repairs, is too small, or costs more than 30 percent of household income. In Manitoba, 51,125 households (11.4 percent of all households) were in core housing need. (Statistics Canada, 2017).