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A downtown Winnipeg church is pushing to make poverty history, and hoping other churches will join them.

Home Street Mennonite Church has seen the effects of poverty in their community and decided to be a part of an initiative for permanent change.

Esther Epp-Tiessen is the Mission Coordinator for Home Street Mennonite Church. She said that the coalition Make Poverty History is seeking to address poverty in Manitoba at the provincial level as well as Winnipeg at the municipal level.

The coalition is made up of many different groups that have banded together such as social service groups, faith groups, business groups and indigenous peoples groups to provide a comprehensive response to poverty in the province and the City of Winnipeg.

Epp-Tiessen said Home Street learned about the coalition last fall when the coalition had launched a specific call to the mayoral candidates urging them to make poverty reduction a key piece of their platform. The coalition invited many groups to sign on to this initiative and the church agreed to do that.

Home Street Mennonite Church is located in downtown Winnipeg where there are many people living in poverty in the neighbourhood.

The church has already been active in reaching out to the community through the Winnipeg Harvest food bank pick up program which runs every other week. They also provide emergency food distribution, coffee, sandwiches and conversation for anyone from the neighbourhood on Sunday mornings.

"We were looking for a way to try to address some of the systems that contribute to poverty and about this time we learned about the Make Poverty History initiative and it made a lot of sense to us and we wanted to support it as a way of encouraging our municipal and provincial leaders to provide a comprehensive response to poverty," Epp-Tiessen said.

The coalition is looking to create a low-income bus pass as they fell bus transportation in Winnipeg has become quite expensive in the past year. They are also recommending a living wage rather than just minimum wage.

Other recommendations include investments in housing, mental health, child care, as well as reconciliation between indigenous and non-indigenous people.

Epp-Tiessen said she encourages other churches to get involved. More information can be found at the Make Poverty History website.

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