On Tuesday February 28 the Province of Manitoba finally released its Homelessness Strategy called A Place for Everyone. The Right to Housing Coalition and Make Poverty History Manitoba have been running a campaign leading up to this announcement. Our message has been that the Homelessness Strategy will fail unless it:
- Invests in 300 net new units of social housing annually for at least 5 years, and
- Increases the EIA basic needs benefit to raise the incomes of all Manitobans to at least 75% of the poverty line.
So how does the new Homelessness Strategy measure up?
The Homelessness Strategy will make 700 new units of social housing available this year, which is more than we asked for annually, but it does not include targets for subsequent years.
The need is far greater and we really wanted to see a long-term, multi-year commitment around investing in social housing. Manitoba has lost 24,000 units that rent under $750 in the last 10 years, and there are nearly 6,000 people on a wait list for Manitoba housing.
EIA Basic Needs Benefit
The only EIA increases in the Homeless Strategy are the ones already announced in August of this year, which added just $50/mo for EIA general assistance clients without dependent children and $25/mo for EIA disability clients.
This brings the Basic Needs Benefit to $245/mo for EIA general assistance clients and $274/mo for EIA disability clients, putting EIA recipients on general assistance at 47% of the poverty line rather than the 75% that we have been calling for.
While we did not accomplish exactly what we wanted, our campaign contributed to the small gains to EIA benefits and social housing investments. As we bring this joint campaign to a close, we want to express our gratitude to you, our supporting members, who responded to our calls to action and helped amplify our message with letters and phone calls to government representatives. Thank you for your support and advocacy.