The City of Winnipeg is reviewing its housing policy. The current Winnipeg Housing Policy, which hasn’t been updated since 1999, focuses on revitalizing downtown and inner city neighbourhoods to address poor housing conditions, falling property values and neighbourhood decline.
A lot has changed in Winnipeg since 1999 – more suburban sprawl and congestion, higher housing prices and rental costs in the inner city, and lower vacancy rates. Finding affordable housing is a greater issue for more families. As reported by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, incomes of renters have failed to keep up with rent increases in Winnipeg. A recent report by the Social Planning Council of Winnipeg, A Place to Call Home: Homelessness in Winnipeg in 2011, found that more than 1,700 people are homeless on any given night and that homeless shelters are often full and turning people away.
A revised municipal housing policy is needed, but only broad and meaningful public consultation can create a housing policy for all citizens of Winnipeg, including those who are homeless or living in inadequate or unaffordable housing. Unfortunately, this doesn’t appear to be what the city is doing. Instead, the city has hired a private company to consult with select stakeholders on their needs, interests and priorities. Mud and Water has corresponded with city staff to obtain the names of these stakeholders. To date, this information has not been provided. The City of Winnipeg did hold a public consultation on June 27, but only one person showed up. No other opportunities for public participation are being promoted.
On July 9, Mud and Water talked to Christina Maes Nino of the Social Planning Council of Winnipeg about how the City’s housing policy should address homelessness and the current shortage of affordable housing. Download the interview.