End Homelessness Winnipeg is facilitating a COVID-19 Response in collaboration with the homeless-serving sector in the city, including community agencies, the WRHA, Public Health and the City of Winnipeg’s Emergency Operations Centre. End Homelessness Winnipeg staff are providing backbone supports for partner agencies in this collective effort. Our top priority is health and safety for individuals at increased risk during a COVID-19 outbreak.
Why a homeless-centred response is needed
Individuals experiencing homelessness can face greater risk during a pandemic, because they often have complicating health conditions or disabilities. The usual prevention and social distancing measures may not be feasible for those without a home or staying in emergency shelters. Workplace measures reducing non-essential gatherings and services can disproportionately affect those without a home, who rely on community spaces for safe places to go. In response, COVID-19 efforts by Winnipeg’s homeless-serving sector are focused on maintaining access to essential services like food, shelter and health care, while encouraging prevention measures such as social distancing, hand washing, disinfecting surfaces and monitoring symptoms.
Support from Reaching Home
The Government of Canada has announced that it will provide the Reaching Home federal homelessness initiative with additional funds “to support people experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 outbreak.” As Community Entity responsible for administering Reaching Home funds locally, End Homelessness Winnipeg is hopeful that needed resources can soon flow to priority areas identified by the COVID-19 Response. End Homelessness Winnipeg will also be working with all agencies funded through Reaching Home in 2019 and 2020 to extend flexibility and address needs related to project reporting and service provision, in cases where program or staffing changes have been undertaken to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
End Homelessness Winnipeg Operations
End Homelessness Winnipeg has cancelled its planned March 23 Coordinated Access Engagement Session. The April 8 Winnipeg Street Census has been postponed by partnering organizations, tentatively to September 23. Staff are working with partners to evaluate the possibility of postponing the Gizhe Waa Ti-Sii-Win Service Delivery Expo scheduled for May 14. End Homelessness Winnipeg has also begun facilitating remote participation in scheduled meetings. As of Monday, March 23, the offices at 216 Pacific and 213 Notre Dame will be closed, with most staff working remotely from home. For more information and updates, please contact [email protected] or visit End Homelessness Winnipeg on Facebook and Twitter.