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With the release of the 2018 Winnipeg Street Census, organizations working to fight homelessness in Winnipeg are getting a new look at the conditions facing those they're trying to help. 

This is the second Winnipeg Street Census, following the last one in 2015. Josh Brandon, the lead author of the report, says the two are difficult to compare due to differences in data collection. However, Brandon said the number of homeless individuals surveyed rose by 100 from 2015 to 2018.

"It was a really interesting experience because everyone has a unique story to tell and it's important to listen to those stories," Brandon said.

Brandon says he was disappointed in some of the stuff he learned during the Census. 60 percent of the people he talked to were Indigenous. He was also shocked at who young they were, with many saying they were 20 years old when they first experienced homelessness.

"We really need to concentrate our efforts on youth."

Jim Bell, CEO of Siloam Mission, says individuals from Siloam were involved in gathering the data and that they are taking the results seriously.

"It's certainly a measure of what is taking place out in our city with respect to homelessness, and of course we know that the problem is not going away," Bell said. "In some ways, it's becoming more challenging."

Siloam is hoping to improve the homeless situation, not only through the additional beds being added but also trying to help address housing needs for those who use their services. Bell hopes they can help surround them with a community of support.

 "Although we know that the problem continues, [the census] is helpful to us because it feeds into what we're trying to do with these statistics to try and help these people move forward," he said.

Bell says Siloam has appreciated the efforts of all three governments in trying to address the city's need, something he says is incredibly important.

"We do know that this is a challenge that no one agency or group can solve, but I do believe collaboratively that this is something that we can make significant strides with, and we need to in our community," Bell shared.

Cindy Titus, communications with Main Street Project, agrees with Bell, saying shelters and the public need to work together to solve this problem. The results are very important as well.

"Results from this report really help agencies like Main Street Project gain greater insights into the needs of marginalized or vulnerable people in our city,"  "We use these findings to help create programming."

Like Siloam, Main Street Project had people involved with the survey, with stations set up inside the building. Titus says this is a great way to connect with them.

"If people want to help, the best way to help is donating to agencies like Main Street Project," Titus offered when it comes to public help. "Whether that's donating money or time volunteering."

The Census, run over a 24-hour period from April 17 to April 18, 2018, reached around 1,500 people experiencing homelessness in Winnipeg. 300 volunteers and staff talked to 69 emergency, domestic violence and youth shelters, as well as transitional housing sites and community agencies. Some of the preliminary findings included:

  • 38.0% of those considered homeless were either sleeping outside or in a shelter. The remainder were in someone else's house, transitional housing, or an institution.
  • 65.1% of those surveyed were male, with 21.4% being 50 years or older.
  • 367 surveyed were under the age of 29. 80.2% of that population was Indigenous.
  • 37.0% of respondents had been homeless for one to four years. 7.4% had been homeless for more than 20 years.

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