Winter Pop Up provides relief for those experiencing homelessness

Fewer people experiencing homelessness will be left out in the cold this winter.

In November 2023, we announced a plan for a Winter Pop Up at Siloam Mission in partnership with Main Street Project, Sunshine House, and 1JustCity. The need has been overwhelming, and more staffing has been needed, with numbers exceeding 100 people a night. Salvation Army has now joined the partnership to help meet the expanded need. 

The project was made possible by a $265,000 grant. The City of Winnipeg contributed $200,000 as part of the $1 million already approved by council in the 2023 budget to expand the 24/7 safe space partnerships and pilot new extreme weather initiatives. One of our sector partners, End Homelessness Winnipeg, graciously gave the other $65,000.

“This funding will ensure that every individual has the option and the offer of a warm place to stay during extreme weather periods,” said Mayor Scott Gillingham at the press conference announcing the project. “Delivering on our collective and shared commitment to build a stronger city where every individual is valued, supported and protected.”

The Pop Up officially opened to the community in our Drop In space on December 8. Siloam has seen roughly 60 to 100 unique individuals use the space each night. We anticipate the Pop Up will remain open until March 31, 2024.

The goal of the initiative is to offer a warm space for people when all emergency shelters are consistently full (N’Dinawemak, Main Street Project, Salvation Army, Siloam Mission, and Just a Warm Sleep), it feels like -10 C, determined three days in advance, and there are a minimum of four staff available.

Working with other organizations has ensured community members have a safe gathering space. Main Street Project is helping with transportation and coordination. Sunshine House has been offering programming in the evenings. Snacks and warm drinks have also been available for those in the space.

“We knew when shelters were already full in September, that winter was going to be different this year. And so in collaboration with our sector partners we are blessed to host this Pop Up and ensure lifesaving access to a warm place to be,” says Tessa Blaikie Whitecloud, CEO of Siloam Mission. 

But the Pop Up is only a band-aid solution to what the City of Winnipeg really needs: more affordable housing to reduce the demand for shelter space. 

“We are excited to be a part of the team that’s always collaborating to put our community members first. And we’re excited to not need this. So let’s build housing.” Tessa Blaikie Whitecloud, CEO of Siloam Mission.