Manitoba

New, expanded Main Street Project shelter to open Tuesday in Winnipeg

The new space at 637 Main Street, in the old Mitchell Fabrics building, offers 36,000 square feet of shelter space — 17 times bigger than the old space on Martha Street.

Renovated facility in old Mitchell Fabrics building can sleep up to 120 people

Adrienne Dudek, director of supportive and transitional housing at Main Street Project, says the new shelter will provide a dignified space to offer services. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

A new, larger shelter for Winnipeg's Main Street Project is set to open Tuesday, accommodating dozens more people than its previous space, even with COVID-19 distancing requirements in place.

"This facility will offer a dignified place to receive service," said Adrienne Dudek, director of supportive and transitional housing at Main Street Project.

The new space at 637 Main Street, in the old Mitchell Fabrics building, offers 36,000 square feet of shelter space — 17 times bigger than the old space on Martha Street.

In that space, the shelter will be able sleep 120 people with required physical distancing measurements in place, and even more once the pandemic ends, Dudek said.

"For many years, we've slept 60 to 70 people in 2,300 square feet for overnight sleep services and respite," she said.

"Not only is this building a response to a sheltering need in terms of meeting the needs of people who come and stay with us, but it's also a COVID response need."

The new shelter can sleep up to 120 people with COVID-19 distancing requirements in place, and will be able to expand that number after the pandemic. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

The space was orginally slated to open earlier this year, but the team hit a series of delays with the building, Dudek said. Now, they're set to open Tuesday.

"People can come here, they can sleep during the day. We're one of the only places that you can have some respite during the day," Dudek said, adding there are 50 spaces for people to sleep during daylight hours.

"We have day drop in, we're a mail hub for a lot of people who have no fixed address. You can also just grab a cup of coffee, have some food security, grab a meal and or use our shower, bathroom, connection to casework services [and] housing referrals."

Clients at the new shelter will be able to sleep, connect with case workers, use the bathrooms or showers, have a meal or just grab a cup of coffee, Dudek said. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

The redesign initially began in April, Dudek said, in an effort to rejig services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Main Street Project took that goal and ran with it, she said.

"Part of that redesign for us was increasing our shelter capacity to meet social distancing needs and be able to hand out PPE, and look at all those daily needs in terms of food security, showers, bathrooms, a warm cup of coffee," she said. "And this is the result."

Accessing services has been more difficult for people experiencing housing insecurity during the pandemic, Dudek said, so the low-barrier services at Main Street Project are as crucial as ever. 

Heading into the winter, Dudek said Main Street Project relies on the generosity of community members to make donations.

"Every item that's donated to us, we redistribute right to community members," she said. "All of that information is found on our website if people are interested in donating."

With files from Jeff Stapleton

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