May

14

2024

On a sunny day in March, moving trucks made their way down Roblin Avenue. Their destination? Siloam Mission’s newest Supportive Housing Residence. 

For many, this wasn’t just a relocation- it was the promise of a fresh beginning. 

As a housing-first organization, Siloam Mission understands that homelessness can stem from various causes. Yet, research consistently shows that the most effective solution is providing stable housing. 

“It’s easier to recover if you don’t have to worry about where you’re going to sleep tonight,” says Tessa Blaikie Whitecloud, CEO of Siloam Mission. “If you have a place to stay, where you are safe and supported, you can focus on things like your mental health, finding employment, or reconnecting with family. Housing is a human right and it has to come first.”

In 2023, Siloam Mission took a significant step forward by developing a comprehensive housing strategy.

“We’re committed to building 700 housing units over the next 10 years to answer part of the housing need in Winnipeg,” explains Tessa. “It’s an ambitious goal but I believe we can achieve it.”  

The Charleswood residences, comprising 33 units tailored for older adults, are now filling up with residents, many of whom have relied on our Shelter at Siloam for months, if not years. Like The Madison in Wolseley, these units provide a permanent home, offering residents a sense of safety and belonging they may have never experienced before.

“The decision to focus on long-term housing was intentional,” says Christine Vanagas, Director of Community Wellness, “Winnipeg has a housing crisis that will take many years and many partners to turn around. So, while transitional housing is very much an important piece of the solution, the community we serve stressed that their options of affordable homes they can move into after their transitional stay were extremely limited.” 

When discussing housing initiatives, two critical factors must be considered.

Firstly, like much of Canada, Winnipeg is grappling with a housing shortage. For every 20 individuals in need, there are only three social housing units available in Winnipeg, compared to eight in Regina and nine in Calgary.

Secondly, it’s not solely about building or renovating additional housing units; it’s about ensuring residents receive the necessary support to live independently.

“We identified our priority populations after speaking with staff, the community, the Indigenous Advisory Council, and the Board. They include seniors, those in need of emergency housing, and those needing recovery-based housing,” explains Tessa. “We have also included two populations identified in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action and the MMIWG2S+ Calls for Justice: Youth aging out of care and Indigenous women and girls.”

These populations reflect those who we frequently assist at Siloam and those who we aim to empower.

Siloam Mission is proud to contribute to Sheltering the Spirit of Winnipeg residents. For more details about our housing strategy or to access the full document, please visit our website, www.siloam.ca/housing.

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