Edit: 25 residents are being housed in the dormitories, rather than 21 as previously reported.
With support of the City of Thompson, the Thompson Homeless Shelter, and Thompson’s Community Advisory Board on Homelessness, 25 regular users of the Thompson Homeless Shelter (THS) have been relocated to the YWCA’s dormitories to aid with social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic as of this morning. The individuals were selected based on their elevated risk, including factors like age, medical conditions, and more.
The YWCA has designated an area of the facility specifically for shelter users, and they have been screened for temperature and recent history on arrival. The YWCA is providing food, and those staying at the facility encouraged to remain near the building for the duration of the Province’s current Public Health Orders. The facility is staffed with additional security 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. No alcohol, drugs, or other intoxicants are permitted on site.
Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak has also donated hygiene hampers for the homeless residents being housed at the YWCA, including supplies like soap, shampoo, and a change of clothes.
The YWCA housing is being funded entirely through the $2.2 billion federal Reaching Home: Canada’s Homelessness Strategy. As part of the strategy, the federal government announced in May 2019 that it would be providing Thompson with $1.74 million in funding over 5 years (2019-2024) to support homelessness initiatives like the Thompson Homeless Shelter. This year, the City received an additional $200, 000 to support COVID-19 safety among Thompson’s homeless residents.
The Work Isn’t Over
52 individuals are still relying on the existing Thompson Homeless Shelter for a place to sleep every night, not including individuals who have homes in outlying communities but are stranded in Thompson.
After investigating the Polaris #6 building, which has been disused for 2 years, inspectors determined that the building would need more extensive repairs than previously expected before it would be suitable as emergency housing.
The City of Thompson, the Thompson Homeless Shelter, and the Community Advisory Board on Homelessness, are still investigating other possible options for pandemic-safe housing. Both the Keewatin Tribal Council and Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak have also applied for additional COVID-19 specific funding to support projects for vulnerable people in the north.
In the meantime, the RCMP’s Community Relations Unit and the City of Thompson’s CSOs continue to patrol Thompson’s downtown to help make Thompson’s homeless and at-risk residents more aware of COVID-19 and the risks it presents to their community.