As Winnipeg deals with ongoing issues of poverty and homelessness, the city’s mayor says they have now created and filled a brand new city position that will be dedicated to combating homelessness, and to understanding the reasons that some people are living on the streets.

On Friday, Winnipeg Mayor Scott Gillingham announced the city has hired Jarred Baker to take on the new role of Senior Advisor on Homelessness within the Mayor’s Office.

Gillingham said in a Friday media release, that creating a position dedicated to combating homelessness was one of the promises he made when he ran for mayor in the fall of 2022.

“During the campaign, I committed to using an existing position within the Mayor’s Office to help take action on homelessness, street safety, addiction and mental health policy issues,” Gillingham said.

Gillingham said he believes that Baker has both the knowledge and the experience to succeed in the position, and added he has years of experience working with Indigenous, groups, people and communities.

“I am confident that Jarred’s experience and collaborative nature will serve him well in this role,” he said.

According to the city, Baker has 15 years of experience in the social services field, with a “focus on the Indigenous community.”

His most recent role was as Executive Director of Onashowewin, an organization that works with people who are involved in the criminal justice system, and works under principles of restorative justice.

He previously held positions with the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, the Eagle Urban Transition Centre, the Aboriginal Health and Wellness Centre of Winnipeg, and Ka Ni Kanichihk.

He has also served on the boards of End Homelessness Winnipeg and the Native Clan Organization, and on the advisory council for the Downtown Community Safety Partnership, the city said.

Gillingham says he believes the city will do a better job of dealing with homelessness if there is someone on staff who is solely dedicated to working on that issue, and on the issues that can lead to poverty and homelessness, including addictions and mental health issues.

“There are many opportunities and challenges our city is facing when it comes to homelessness, which is why I felt it was important to have a dedicated individual to advise me and act as a liaison between my office and the organizations doing the work on the frontlines,” Gillingham said.

Baker will begin his new role with the city on June 5.

By Dave Baxter, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on May 21, 2023 at 06:13

This item reprinted with permission from    The Sun    Winnipeg, Manitoba
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