Street census to provide snapshot of homelessness in Winnipeg

The City of Winnipeg is looking for volunteers to help gather information about the extent and nature of homelessness on its streets.

Count of city's poorest citizens, first since 2015, will take place April 18

The first street census, conducted Oct. 25, 2015, found there were about 1,400 people experiencing homelessness in Winnipeg. (Submitted)

The City of Winnipeg is looking for volunteers to help gather information about the extent and nature of homelessness on its streets.

The large-scale initiative — the first such street census since 2015 — is being conducted in partnership with 26 community partners. It will take place April 18.

"Homelessness is a reality for too many Canadians and a challenge for every community. The Government of Canada is proud to be working in collaboration with communities like the City of Winnipeg to conduct this second, national point-in-time count," Jean-Yves Duclos, federal minister of families, children and social development, said in a release.

The federal government is funding the $81,000 initiative, which is being administered through the City of Winnipeg.

"This data is essential to helping us create a real picture of homelessness in Canada, so that we can develop effective strategies that respond to homelessness at the local level," Duclos said.

A point-in-time count helps identify how many people are experiencing homelessness in shelters and on the streets at that time.

The information can then be used by funders, governments and community organizations to improve decision-making.

Data from the census helps government and social agencies develop effective strategies to help end homelessness. (David Donnelly/CBC)

"Taking on homelessness means the needs of the whole person — shelter, health, safety and opportunity — have to be recognized by the whole community," said acting deputy mayor Matt Allard.

"This requires the contributions of many partners, and the second Winnipeg street census will provide the information all partners need for continued action and real solutions."

The majority of the information is gathered through face-to-face surveys conducted by volunteers.

Initial findings will be released in June and a final report will come out in early September.

The first census, conducted Oct. 25, 2015, found there were about 1,400 people experiencing homelessness in Winnipeg. It also gathered stories and data on demographics, causes of homelessness and the types of supports accessed by those in need.

Over a 24-hour period, 300 volunteers visited to shelters, transitional housing sites, bottle depots and community agencies or drop-in locations.