Connecting the Circle: A Gender-Based Strategy to End Homelessness in Winnipeg asked all the mayoral candidates tell us what they would do as mayor to address issues identified in our research project. We received responses from only one candidate. Thank you to Don Woodstock for taking the time to address these important issues. Here are his answers:

Q: What would you do as Mayor to achieve the development of gender-specific homeless shelters?

Don Woodstock: We have a lot of derelict buildings in this city, and I am the only candidate who has vowed to end homelessness in Winnipeg. I would utilize these buildings for creating a safe group environment until we are able to help them transition into their own space. The Federal Government spends $7.2B annually for the homeless and to provide a home with services to help them transition back onto their feet will only cost $4B annually. There are 7 cities in Canada looking to end homelessness – I vow that Winnipeg will be the eighth.

Q: What will you do as Mayor to ensure Winnipeg Transit, Handi Transit, and vehicles-for-hire are safer and more accessible for women, trans, two-spirit and gender non-conforming individuals?

Don Woodstock: Over the years, there have been a lot of complaints that I know of first-hand. As your Mayor I would work diligently with all community groups, organizations, companies & individuals to help provide a safe, affordable means of safe transportation with the primary goal of being respectful to the commuting public regardless of race or gender. I believe this will be achieved when we become a Human Rights City where the word ‘inclusion’ is not just a word we use but we actually practice – one to another. I will work to make us a Human Rights City.

Q: What would you do as Mayor to support the development of social and affordable housing options that meets the unique needs of women, trans, two-spirit, and gender non-conforming individuals?

Don Woodstock: I will immediately get rid of Corporate Welfare. What I mean by that is “that I would never have given True North $28M.” Instead, I would have given $28M to low affordable housing. As Mayor, the Property, Planning & Development Department will be given a new mandate: To prioritize all developments that meet the needs of affordable, low income criteria and small business opportunities.

Q: What would you do as Mayor to ensure rooming houses, shelters, and low-income housing is safe for women, trans, two-spirit, and gender non-conforming individuals?

Don Woodstock: Folks who own or manage these types of rooming housing are usually folks who have no vested interest in the well-being of their tenants. Their goal is simply money. A new criteria is needed: All hallways need to have working video surveillance and outdoors around the front & back doors. As a security dealer myself, I have seen the dangers that has plagued these rooming houses & this will stop it.

Q: Why do you think reporting to police is so difficult for those who experience gender-based violence? What would you do as Mayor to take action to address root causes of this violence?

Don Woodstock: Community policing needs to be front & center once again. But most importantly, policing done by police officers who live in the community. This will help individuals to speak with an officer on or off the job, because they would see them at the grocery stores, the bars, the shops, the 7/11s and will be able to feel safe & comfortable with a dialogue. This procedure will increase the reporting of incidents and help to solve problems that exist.

Q: What would you do as Mayor to build a healthier and adequate response to pest control alongside provincial partners such as Residential Tenancies Branch and Manitoba Housing?

Don Woodstock: The Provincial Government and the City have never truly admitted the extent of the Bed Bug epidemic & infestation. I will change that by truly recognizing the magnitude of the problem – it will help us access funds from the Federal & Provincial Government to help eradicate this issue as an epidemic. Once it is a ‘health hazard’ now we can help folks by getting them to move out temporarily for 3-4 weeks – have the entire apartment block fumigated properly, which will be paid for with a little support from the owner and a lot of support from all 3 levels of government. Proper procedure and quick action will eradicate this.

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