The Federal Government and Homelessness: Community Initiative or Dictation from Above?

Manitoba Research Alliance on CED in the New Economy,

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Christopher Leo and Martine August

Year: 2005

This study looks at the Supporting Communities Partnership Initiative (SCPI) program as it operated in Winnipeg through the summer of 2003, and analyses how well it lived up to its promises of flexibility and responsiveness. The SCPI has the broad goal of reducing and alleviating homelessness and is intended to involve community input and direction. Using government documents, interviews with officials and community leaders, and secondary sources, the paper shows that the program in Winnipeg fell short of its promise. The mandate of the SCPI is too narrow, precluding the types of solutions that will actually work to alleviate homelessness in Winnipeg. The priorities identified by community members and stakeholders were largely ignored, first in the creation of the community plan and then in deciding what programs would receive funding. The study shows that the federal government recognizes in theory that local communities may be best placed to come up with solutions to their own problems, but also demonstrates that the federal government has in practice been reluctant to relinquish power. It recommends changes to address these problems.

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