A Winnipeg organization helping recovering addicts get back on their feet is struggling to keep its doors open.
Morberg House works with men overcoming addiction, homeless, and mental health challenges, but without stable funding, the non-profit’s founder says it could be forced to stop that work.
“Morberg House has become everybody’s hope, but we’re left in a rather hopeless situation with no funding,” Marion Willis told Global News Friday.
“It would be taking away one of the very few resources that are available to people who most need it, at a time when our homicide rate has nearly doubled.”
Morberg House has operated its 12-bed facility from a home in St. Boniface since 2016, and Willis says other than $703 a month per client provided through Income Assistance, the non-profit has never received municipal or provincial funding.
Instead, Willis says the program has been kept afloat on donations from the public, local businesses, and religious groups, but she says the program has grown over the years.
That has included hiring 11 peer support workers and a psych nurse to work at the facility.
Now, without funding, Willis says Morberg House won’t be able to make payroll next month.
“We just can’t do this on just community donations,” she said.
“Our need for funds has grown with the success of our program.”
Willis is calling on the provincial government to help fund the program, one she says has garnered attention from others across the country looking to replicate their work.
“But here in our own province, we’re not supported,” she said, adding the court system, hospitals, and other provincially-funded systems have all come to rely on Morberg House’s services.
“It’s disturbing to me that we’re in year four of doing this and we continue to provide a free service to the city and this province.
“It’s just not right.”
Willis said she’s requested meetings with province officials over the years to discuss funding, but hasn’t heard back until just recently.
In a statement to Global News, the province said they’ve appointed a liaison to work with Morberg House on client cases, as needed, and are considering Willis’ request for a meeting.
In the meantime, Willis says Morberg House will continue its work, for as long as it is able to.
“There’s a lot of public unrest over the amount of violence in the city, taking away the one resource that actually does exist and has demonstrated success, why would you do that?” she said.
“It’s rather counter-intuitive, isn’t it?”
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