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Bitter cold has Winnipeggers looking for housing, supporting those in need

Even in the freezing cold, Lawrence Corbiere chooses to spend his days outdoors, but he knows some of the vulnerable people he encounters in downtown Winnipeg don’t have the same opportunity.

“My fingertips almost froze a few times. But I saw a guy who lost all his fingertips because they were frozen.”

Corbiere has a home but visits the Lighthouse Mission and Siloam Mission to pick up lunch or warm up while picking up rubbish in the area.

He walks Main Street wearing orange clothing and carrying a bucket to dispose of the trash he finds. He feels the stormy cold of one of the iciest winter days in his hands.

“It’s pretty tough. It’s pretty cold,” Corbiere said on Friday while adjusting his hat that a gust of wind had blown off his head moments earlier.

“If I were a millionaire or if I were rich, I would buy a warehouse…keep that [unhoused] warm, get her off the street.”

A man dressed in orange and wearing an orange cap looks to the left.
Lawrence Corbiere rents an apartment, but he visits two missions to warm up and eat a hot lunch when he spends his days outside picking up trash. (Randall McKenzie/CBC)

After weeks of milder temperatures, a prolonged deep freeze is prompting Winnipeg’s homeless shelters to work together to help people escape the cold.

Lighthouse Mission, which distributes warm clothing and groceries, expects demand for its services to increase. The organization places people who need a place to sleep with other organizations with the necessary accommodation.

“Our strength is our connection to the other agencies that have overnight accommodation,” said director Peter McMullen.

“We reach out to them, especially when there are people who are having a really tough time and maybe just can’t figure out how to make it on their own.”

On Saturday, Helping Hand Warriors were stationed on Main Street in front of the Main Street Project to distribute coffee, soup and sandwiches to those in need of food.

“Our relatives need the food”

“We come every Saturday and whatever the weather – really hot, really cold like today,” said Angela Brass, who volunteers with Helping Hands.

“We are out here because our relatives need the food at this time. You need the warm food inside you.”

CLOCK | Winnipeg Emergency Shelters strive to help those in need:

Winnipeg shelters gear up as bitter cold hits the city

A return to frigid winter temperatures is prompting Winnipeg homeless shelters to prepare to help people escape the cold. It comes as a mild January gives way to a deep frost sweeping across southern Manitoba.

The recent cold snap has reopened the doors of a new warm shelter in the St Vital district, put into operation after the death of a woman at a bus stop earlier this winter.

The heat pitch, which opens when temperatures drop, gave Tabitha Andrusko a safe margin to stay.

“It’s way better than any other shelter I’ve been to…because it’s safer and quieter,” Andrusko said.

A woman in a gray hood in a homeless shelter with beds on the floor.
Tabitha Andrusko, who is struggling to find housing, is working with St. Boniface Street Links to try to find permanent housing. (Randall McKenzie/CBC)

The shelter, housed in a municipal building, is run by St. Boniface Street Links, who have been working with Andrusko over the past few weeks to find their permanent home. She said she is confident they will find a place to call her own.

In discussions with landlords and property managers, the organization hopes to provide permanent housing for at least half of the people staying with them during this cold spell.

Abraham Saddleback, who lives in the 15-bed shelter, also counts on this help.

He has a job – which he says has given him hope for better days – but he has yet to save enough money to secure permanent housing.

Saddleback says he just strives for a normal life.

“If that works for me, then I’m like any other person, work, have my own home and just get by,” he said.

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