'Typical bureaucracy': Funding for Winnipeg emergency shelter beds denied
Province cites lack of need, says Red Road Lodge isn't suitable to house emergency shelter
A downtown Winnipeg supportive housing centre has lost its bid to create 10 emergency shelter beds for homeless women with no place to go.
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The Red Road Lodge has been trying for months to secure funding for the beds, which would be devoted primarily to women. But the province says the lodge won't be receiving any additional funding, citing a lack of need for more shelter beds.
"Typical bureaucracy," said Red Road Lodge executive director Beverly Burkard.
"We're the little people with our feet on the street and we know what's going on."
Burkard said she asked the province to fund the beds after regularly seeing homeless women walk into the lodge with no other place to go this past winter.
Burkard said the lodge is usually full, so women would often spend the night sleeping on a wooden bench inside the complex.
The lodge has vacant space used for meetings that Burkard says is going to waste on the building's main floor. It's this space she wants to convert into an emergency shelter.
'Save lives, plain and simple'
"It would save lives, plain and simple," she said.
Burkard said she thinks she could secure a grant to pay for renovations that would let the lodge house the beds, but would still need $50,000 from the province to pay for staff to watch the beds for one year.
A government spokesperson said the space isn't suitable for an emergency shelter and there are regularly empty beds in existing shelters.
Representatives from local homeless shelters say that's not the case.
Both Siloam Mission and the Salvation Army said their shelters have been full most nights this month.
Salvation Army Maj. Rob Kerr said sometimes staff have to make other space available for women coming in off the streets, when the shelter is full.
"We do not want to see any women left outside overnight," he said.
Ashley Grant is one of the people who says having another safe place to sleep would go a long way.
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Grant, 32, is living on the streets and said creating beds for homeless women would be an "excellent" idea. She said she's been targeted as a woman on the street by men who've offered her drugs or offered her work in the sex trade.
"There's, like, a lot of perverts out there, so that makes it difficult," she said.
He credits the lodge with helping him get off the streets and wants others to see the difference it's made in his life.
"I get very emotional with it because it's just, like, amazing," he said.
"People have seen me and [say], 'Man, you've changed.'"