While public concern about homelessness continues to be high, that concern depends on your gender, where you live and what experiences you have had with poverty.
According to a Probe Research Poll conducted for the Social Planning Council, almost 40% of the respondents said they were ‘strongly concerned’ with homelessness in Winnipeg. Almost 30% said they were ‘moderately concerned’. Only 34% said they were ‘less concerned’.
Women, inner city residents and those living on less than $30,000 a year were more concerned with homelessness.
“When we asked people what they thought were the causes of homelessness, we found a high level of misunderstanding. A quarter of the responses pointed to substance abuse or mental illness as the causes – only about 10% said the basic causes were a lack of affordable housing and poverty,” says Christina Maes Nino, Policy Analyst with the Social Planning Council of Winnpeg.
“While levels of addiction and mental illness are higher among those experiencing chronic homelessness, most people without a place to call home became homeless because they couldn’t afford the rent.”
Those who identified affordable housing as the central problem were mainly women, core area residents and those who were strongly concerned with homelessness.
Over 400 people need emergency shelter every night in Winnipeg. An SPCW report, A Place To Call Home published last year, said that there was a 14% increase in the number of Winnipeggers who needed emergency shelter from 2008 to 2011. Link to the report here: http://www.spcw.mb.ca/files/4013/3917/1275/A_Place_to_Call_Home_FINAL.pdf
The city-wide omnibus poll was conducted by Probe Research in the fall. 600 respondents were called and with 95% certainty, the results were within +/- 4 percentage points of what they would have been if the entire adult population of Winnipeg was interviewed.