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Campaign takes aim at Penticton's chronically homeless population

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September 21, 2016 - 5:30 PM

PENTICTON - Penticton’s homeless population is getting new support from an initiative.

Penticton and District Society for Community Resources executive director Tanya Behardien and United Way Community investment manager Ian Gerbrandt spoke to city council yesterday, Sept. 10, about their new campaign to help people who are chronically homeless .

One Hundred Homes Penticton is part of a national campaign organized by the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness by creating 20,000 homes across the nation for those without a roof over their heads.

Behardien said the Penticton campaign is being championed by community leaders looking to provide housing and support to 100 of the city’s most vulnerable homeless people by July 2018.

Thirty communities have signed on nationally to the campaign so far. Penticton would be the fourth B.C. city to be involved.

Behardien said they will be participating in a housing registry week from Nov. 7 to Nov. 10. Volunteers will canvas city streets and shelters with the goal of putting a name to every homeless person in the city. Those identified to be most acutely in need will be given priority.

Behardien asked city council to help by raising awareness with the public through council’s networks. She also asked council to consider a motion to endorse the goals of the campaign in order to help bring awareness and legitimacy to the project.

Gerbrandt says an informal count of Penticton’s homeless last year found 60 people living on the street. He says the campaign goal of 100 was selected to allow for those who come and go from the street, noting homeless people tend to fit into two groups.

“Eighty-five per cent of the homeless can get off the street with just limited resources, but 15 per cent have more complex needs, making their situations more difficult. Those are the homeless we’re looking at, the chronically homeless,” he says.

Gerbrandt says the first phase of the project is to get the various groups involved to agree on the process. The second phase would “get creative on housing inventory.”

Several community groups in the city, including Keep the Cold off Penticton, are already working on ways to solve the city’s homelessness problem.


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