WINNIPEG - A new 138-bed isolation facility for those experiencing homelessness is opening in response to a surge in COVID-19 cases at Winnipeg shelters. Part of Manitoba’s Alternative Isolation Accommodation program, the new site brings the number of AIA locations to five. Families Minister Heather Stefanson says outbreaks at homeless shelters are taking a toll on the number of beds available for those experiencing a housing crisis.
Manitoba Health officials say an existing 39-bed AIA site for people experiencing homelessness, and a 16-bed secondary site that opened when the first one filled up, have consistently been at or very near capacity. There have also been about 50 people self-isolating in a hotel site, more 60 people at a Red Cross-operated site, and more than 30 isolating at a facility run by the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch.
Along with spaces for those experiencing homelessness to self-isolate if they tested positive for COVID-19, a plan for AIA sites for health care workers and other Manitobans who don’t have access to a private area in their home, or live with someone who is at higher risk or immune compromised, was announced in late June.
In addition to providing more than 58,000 pieces of PPE to homeless shelters, the provincial government says it’s invested $3.5 million toward expanding shelter capacity, including over $550,000 for 100 beds at Main Street Project, as well as thousands that went to the Salvation Army, Siloam Mission, Resource Assistance for Youth, and a homeless outreach in Brandon.