As frigid temperatures continue to blast southeastern Manitoba, most people are happy to stay indoors. However, for a handful of Steinbach residents, that is not necessarily an option.
Myra Gerbrandt is the Drop-in Centre Director for Steinbach Community Outreach.
“We have our eyes on five of our guests that are homeless right now,” she comments. “We know a couple of them have places to stay for the next few nights, but there are some that we have not been able to track down.”
On Wednesday, Gerbrandt says she spoke with one of the men dealing with homelessness during the winter months. “Essentially, he said you do what you need to survive, even if that means breaking into a shed to avoid the wind.”
The windchill, she stresses, is the main obstacle at this time of year. Whether it means laying down under a set of park bleachers, curling up underneath a spruce tree, or sitting in Tim Hortons for a prolonged period of time “when it is really really cold out here, they will find whatever they can.”
Unlike the unspoken camaraderie that forms between most people during a cold spell or snowstorm, Gerbrandt suggests this weather is especially lonely for those who are homeless.
“If you don’t look out for yourself or your stuff, someone will take advantage of you.” Still, she remarks, many of them have accepted that this is the way life goes.
“Our friends that are used to living outside in those conditions, they just sort of take it in stride. This is something that they know they have to deal with and many of them have figured out their rhythm.”
While Outreach tries to equip all of its guests with the resources they need during these bitter nights, Gerbrandt says sometimes “all you can do is hope they are staying safe”.