Brandon’s Housing First works to provide shelter, vital supports in southwestern Manitoba

Housing First currently has 43 people housed in different units and 22 others in family housing, said Samantha van den Ham, Housing First’s program manager.

Housing First opened two supportive housing locations in October — one for older people and one for high-risk people. The bachelor units are equipped with their own bathrooms, kitchenette and a shared common space. The locations also offer residents 24-hour access to staff supports. In February, the program started the family housing project out of a local hotel.

Housing First also works closely with a mental health team and the Seventh Street Health Access Centre, which provides a range of health services that include a rapid access to addictions medicine (RAAM) clinic. Average rents in Brandon are $782 for a one-bedroom apartment and $1,000 for a two-bedroom, according to the most recent data from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. A single person on employment income assistance gets about $616 a month for rent, and families get $793.

The number of people experiencing homelessness has been growing, according to Brandon’s Homelessness Individuals and Families Information System — a database that tracks the number of homeless people in the city. From November to the end of March 2023, it recorded 401 individuals experiencing homelessness. That number jumped to 521 over the same period in 2024.

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