This new centre that is now open in Winnipeg means "more room for hope, recovery, and transition" for the city's most vulnerable population.
Jim Bell, CEO of Siloam Mission says, "It's a special day! We are so glad to be able to open the Buhler Centre in this time of great need."
Garth Manness, chair of the Make Room Capital Campaign says, "When the project started in 2015, Siloam was bursting at the seams and needed to make room to continue to work with Winnipeg's most vulnerable."
The Buhler Centre boasts an additional 54,000 sq feet and is connected to the old space on Princess Street.
It houses 43 new beds, including a separate and more secure space for women. This brings their total number of beds to 153 when running at full capacity.
During this pandemic, to keep with the social distancing guidelines, Siloam Mission can accommodate up to 112 people overnight.
"Community members that had a bed last night are guaranteed a bed tonight, so long as they check-in by 8:00 pm. If they had a bed last night, they can have it for up to 60 days," says staff Janet McLeod. "They must connect with our caseworkers and make sure they have a plan. That's the whole point. This is a transition time and we want to help them move forward."
Statistically, for a person that has become newly homeless, if they find housing and a new job within 60 days or less, they are much less likely to experience homelessness again.
"With the addition of the beds, we're pretty much able to accommodate everybody", says McLeod, and that's even with social distancing guidelines in place.
The centre officially opened a number of beds to the public at the beginning of July already with the celebration of their grand opening this morning.
Bonnie and John Buhler donated the greatest amount in Siloam's history with $3 million towards this new centre. Therefore appropriately named the Buhler Centre.
Bell says, "They wanted to be here today, but unfortunately they could not attend."
From one of the plaques on the wall, the reason for their generosity is because, they say, "When we think of all the people in our city who have no home, who struggle with mental health issues, and who have no place to go, we know it's not right. That's why we want to help."
Transitioning people from homeless to working with a place to call home means being properly dressed for a job interview.
The basement of the new building houses an expanded clothing store alongside a new hygiene centre. Another adjacent space has daytime access to showers and laundry machines.
Clients can book appointments twice a week to walk through the clothing store and pick out an outfit or two that fits properly, along with needed hygiene items.
"Our work here is not finished, in fact, in some ways it's just begun," says Bell.
Liberal MLA, Terry Duguid, joined in the celebratory morning and spoke briefly during the presentation.
The Mayor of Winnipeg, Brian Bowman, sent a virtual speech that concluded with, "Thank you so much for the crucial work you're doing."
The main floor is home to the expanded Saul Sair Health Centre, which is being renovated to add new recovery beds, additional exam rooms, and an optometry space.
"As we go through COVID, we're going to have to pay attention and see how has that affected people that might have been on the fringe pre-COVID." Jim Bell.
The next step for Siloam Mission is to make 20 new supportive housing recovery units that will be located on the third floor of the old building. The Mission believes these will help bridge the gap for people coming out of addictions treatment who do not have a home to return to.
Those units are expected to open in spring of 2021. The Manitoba government has already given a $500,000 grant towards this new initiative. More funding is needed to see it to completion.