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Creating homes and jobs for inner city homeless

Plan to expand shelter’s services includes providing homes, meals and work for Winnipeg’s homeless

WINNIPEG, MB—Siloam Mission is making strides with Vision 500, its plan to build 500 homes and create 500 employment opportunities by 2018 for people experiencing homelessness and poverty.

This past spring, the Christian humanitarian agency purchased a property near its current building on Princess Street and announced plans to build an eight-storey complex that will house 160 people and a new frontline centre to serve the people who visit the agency each meal.

Floyd Perras, executive director of Siloam, says purchasing the building and completing the necessary zoning changes was an important piece in the Vision 500 puzzle.

“At this point, all we really need is money, so that’s what we’re working on,” says Perras.

The project is slated to cost $30.5 million. Siloam’s board has set aside $1.5 million of the organization’s cash reserves toward the project, and the agency has also secured $4 million from the city. Perras hopes the provincial government will help fund a portion of the cost, and Siloam will also look to the community for support when it launches a capital campaign.

In April 2013, Siloam opened The Madison, an 87-unit complex located on Evanson Street that provides dry, supportive housing for the homeless. When the new building opens in 2016, Siloam will be halfway to its goal of creating 500 homes.

Siloam plans to break ground this spring. Once construction starts and Siloam secures financing for the project, Perras and his team will begin looking for opportunities to create more housing.

He added that he is excited about the expanded frontline services that Siloam will be able to offer as a result of the new building. Right now, the organization feeds about 500 people at each meal.

Siloam’s current dining room holds about 130 people, meaning many are left waiting outside. The new facility will allow 350 people to eat at a time, with room for an additional 100 people to stand inside while they wait for their meal.

“We’re a place of dignity and respect, but it’s hard to keep that going when there are 200 to 300 people standing out there in 30-below weather,” Perras says. “The whole idea is to get people out of the cold temperatures.”

He adds that the next phase of Vision 500 will involve job creation, which will involve partnering with local businesses.

“We’ve been focusing on the homes first, because you need to have a home to be able to… work,” Perras says.

 

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About the author


Special to ChristianWeek

Aaron Epp is a Winnipeg-based freelance writer, Musical Routes columnist, and former Senior Correspondent for ChristianWeek.