News last month of Winkler's unsuccessful grant application through CMHC's Housing Accelerator Fund was not only a huge disappointment for City Council, it was also hard news for Central Community Homes.
Central Community Homes is the organization that provides affordable housing for the most vulnerable people in our community and works in tandem with Winkler's Central Station. Central Community Homes provides the housing, while Central Station looks after the property management and tenant support piece.
"That is the single biggest support that allows Central Community Homes to do what it does," said Board Chair James Friesen.  "It's not just providing a roof over the head, it's providing the support people need to live successfully to stay housed."
Friesen said an organization like theirs requires every level of government, and local input, for them to build housing that's affordable enough for people on social assistance. A critical component they continue to support is the Housing First model. He says the model focuses on providing families, or individuals, a roof over their heads, so they can begin to address other issues in their lives.
"Henry Siemens (Winkler mayor), and the City took the initiative to form a Housing Task Force which had everyone at the table, relative to social service agencies, developers, builders, and municipal leaders," said Friesen. "This was a federal initiative. I guess it ran out of money sooner than they expected."
In addition to looking after existing assets, Central Community Homes continues to plan for a 28-unit apartment building. Just over $ 1 million short of being able to get it started.
Last week, Friesen says they also learned they did not get a grant for significant funding, which he says they had high hopes of receiving. That application process began before the last provincial election. 

"The election happened, so things were put on hold." 

With the new provincial NDP government is in place, Friesen said they're doing their bookkeeping to see what's available, fund-wise. "And long story short, our application was not accepted. Not that it wasn't a strong application, it's just there's so much need in the province. If you look at Winnipeg, you know, it's difficult I think for them to justify taking limited resources when they've got such a huge issue in Winnipeg."
Friesen said the optimistic thing about the situation is they have an incredible board. They have Central Station behind the board of Central Community Homes, and the community is behind Central Station. He says they will continue striving to provide realistic hope for people who are struggling to stay housed.
Currently, Friesen says Central Station has over 180 applications from people seeking affordable housing, and that list is growing.
"We're starting to see visible signs of homelessness in Winkler, and that's concerning, because when you see it, you know there's a bigger issue. You try to deal with it before it comes to that level, but we're there now, and I think it's all our responsibility to pay attention and see what it is we can do to provide for our community members."

Through their efforts to catch individuals before they become homeless, Friesen says they know there's a need for one and two-bedroom units. "A lot of one-bedroom units right now, so that's what our plan looks to provide," he noted.

Friesen said Winkler is not alone in this issue. It's a hot topic across Manitoba and Canada.