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A look into homelessness in Winnipeg finds many of the people living on the streets were once a part of the child welfare system.

About 300 volunteers for the Winnipeg Street Census surveyed 1,519 people experiencing homelessness in the city the night of April 17th and 18th, visiting a total of 53 emergency, domestic violence, and youth shelters, transitional housing sites, bottle depots, community agencies, and drop-in locations, as well as speaking to people on the street.

The survey found 51.5 per cent of respondents had been in the care of Child and Family Services at some point in their lives. Of those people who had been in CFS care, 62.4 per cent said they experienced homelessness within a year of leaving care.

No one under the age of 16 was surveyed, according to the Street Census report, but children and youth in family, women's or youth shelters were included in data when available.

The Street Census report was launched today at Thunderbird House on Main Street. It's the second Street Census carried out in Winnipeg, the first was done in 2015. Research team member Brent Retzlaff says it's hard to compare the two because of a change in methodology. He says the census focused mostly on the inner city, but an outreach strategy this time got them to other parts of the city as well, like Regent and Lagimodiere.

Research team member Brent Retzlaff says the most common response to 'what do you need to get out of homelessness' was affordable housing.

"When we're talking about affordable, we're talking about 30 per cent of someone's total income," says Retzlaff.

Retzlaff says more than half of the people they spoke with were on Employment Income Assistance or some form of welfare system, which he says suggests EIA and welfare rates aren't high enough.

The Street Census found 65.4 per cent of people experiencing homelessness were men. Indigenous people made up 65.9 per cent of the population surveyed. 73.8 per cent of youth were Indigenous.

Retzlaff says the 1,519 people surveyed is a vast underestimation of the people experiencing homelessness in Winnipeg.

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