Homelessness Survey – a striking reality
On the night of October 25, 2015 there were at least 1,727 people experiencing homelessness in Winnipeg. Over 300 volunteers collected data from 140 km of inner city streets. Oak Table invited the surveyors in to talk to our guests.
The statistics are unsettling. 132 people were unsheltered, staying in a bus shelter, a part, a tent a car, or walking the streets. The rest were in emergency shelters, transitional housing, couch surfing etc. Of those who were homeless, 75.8% identified as indigenous. Family breakdown, conflict or violence was the most frequent cited reason for their first experience of homelessness. Addictions was cited as a distant second.
It's obvious we need more programs to prevent homelessness because the impact on health, self-esteem, life-span, and economic viability make it hard to get off the streets. The median age of those experiencing homelessness in Winnipeg is 43; when you live on the street you are considered a senior at this age.
We all need to do our part. Yes, we need to deal with the immediate need of food and clothing, and a place to warm up - we can provide that at Oak Table. This issue goes beyond the immediate - we need housing, and family supports to break the cycle.