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City of Kelowna announces new strategy to help those experiencing homelessness

The new initiative will be put into effect in 2024
New residential construction, particularly in the higher density rental market, continues to expand in Kelowna but still falls short of creating an affordable housing balance in the marketplace. (File photo)

The City of Kelowna is changing its approach to help those experiencing un-sheltered homelessness.

In January, when the contract for the Memorandum of Understanding with the Central Okanagan Journey Home Society expires, the city will be implementing a new team to lead the project.

“The landscape around homelessness has changed dramatically since 2018 when the Journey Home Strategy was introduced. We see people experiencing homelessness who never have before, and rapid growth in the number of people sheltering outside,” said Mayor Tom Dyas. “Despite the gains we have made in establishing more housing solutions, we see a clear need for the City to strengthen its commitment.”

A review carried out in 2023 found that people want to see the city take on a greater role in implementation to support community efforts.

The city is currently assembling the team and formalizing partnerships with housing and outreach organizations. Additional details will be announced in the fall as this work continues.

“Since implementation of the [Memorandum of Understanding] began in 2018, there have been more than 300 homes with supports built in Kelowna,” said Dyas. “The Central Okanagan Journey Home Society has been central to that accomplishment and many others which will have lasting benefit in our community,” said Dyas

However, he added that the amount of people experiencing un-sheltered homelessness is increasing and the city must take a renewed approach.

The City of Kelowna is currently working with BC Housing and other partners to expand shelter and supportive housing capacity and add much needed shelters and transitional housing in the lead up to winter. Over the coming months, the city will work collaboratively with its housing and social sector partners to reset the Journey Home Strategy so goals and targets are well matched to current conditions and challenges and we can remain responsive and solution focused.

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Jacqueline Gelineau

About the Author: Jacqueline Gelineau

I'm a reporter in the beginning stages of my career. I joined the team at Capital News in November 2021...
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