With so many groups in Steinbach that work at helping people with the basic necessities in life, it should come as no surprise to hear that these groups have come together with the focus on ending poverty.
Gay Boese facilitates the Steinbach Poverty Coalition, and she says the group came together in 2019.
“There was a group of us that really just started thinking about how we could make this a community that just offered the opportunity for everybody to thrive,” she says. “So, we invited people with a passion, and we know that this community is really good about people who care about those who have less.”
She says they quickly had a room full of people with energy and passion about removing obstacles for people who are trying to get a step up in life.
“And the synergy that comes with people coming together was fantastic,” Boese says.
The coalition has identified the need for better communication and coordination between the organizations, offering ideas on how to help people with specific needs such as housing, food and finances.
Boese reports that another key piece is to get ideas from people who are accessing support services.
“We decided we didn't want to just think that we knew what people needed, but rather, we needed to find out from the people what they needed,” she says. “So, there's a couple people who are willing to do a research project, much like what Vital Signs, the project in Winkler, does. Just to do focus groups, try to find out exactly what it is that people need to help them out of poverty, help them thrive.
The coalition determined affordable housing and transportation as another area of significant importance.
Boese says they quickly realized that the transportation piece was something that needed to be addressed as quickly as possible, because people need to get to jobs to improve their financial situation. They also need to get to medical facilities and to places of support.
Audrey Harder represents the Pat Porter Active Living Centre and sees transportation as an area that requires a lot of improvement in Steinbach.
She says the centre is now able to provide improved accessible transportation to seniors and those who require accessible transit.
“But again, it still costs money,” Harder says. “It’s still more than a transit ride normally would be.”
The Pat Porter Active Living Centre also receives frequent phone calls from newcomers who are looking for information on public transportation options in our city.
“People call because they want regular transit. ‘How do I get here?’ ‘How do I get there?’ They are new to the community, new to the country,” Harder says. “We get a lot of those calls; you don't know what to say.”
Boese says this is the time to question election candidates to find out what their level of commitment is toward making housing and transportation affordable for everyone. With an election coming up this fall, she says it is important for candidates to know these issues matter to everyone.
She says every level of government needs to work together on these issues.