December 09, 2015 - 2:43 PM
PENTICTON - There’s a new new group in Penticton that aims to make the Peach City the first in B.C. to eliminate homelessness.
As they work towards that goal, Mike Forster and four other individuals have recently registered their social works group, Keep the Cold off Penticton, as a foundation.
The group has been building momentum since a meeting held earlier this month with city officials and other parties interested in resolving the city’s homeless issue.
Currently Forster believes there are approximately 40 homeless people in the city, with another 10 to 20 who 'couch surf' — transitional homeless who manage to find shelter in someone else’s residence from time to time.
“We’re really new to this game, we’ve taken this idea of a care package and turned it into a foundation,” Forster says, adding the group will register as a non-profit as well.
Forster says the foundation has already been looking into real estate costs as well as existing infrastructure costs as they prepare a plan to present to the city and other parties at a Dec. 17 meeting dealing with the homeless. The meeting will start at 1 p.m. and will be held at the Soupateria Hall on Martin Street.
Forster says the federal government has $600 million earmarked for homeless projects, and Keep the Cold off Penticton is determined to tap into that.
“It’s distributed, based on the size of the community. Kelowna and Vernon just got some of this money to open their shelters and run them,” Forster says. “They gave Vernon $600,000 for a property they’re running, and promised enough money for staffing for six years. We want some of that, too.”
The foundation will also have a business plan based on two models prepared for the meeting. One involves the purchase of land and placement of units such as Atco trailers for accommodation, the other uses existing infrastructure.
“We’ve been busting to get this information. The five of us on the board have been working both in front and behind the scenes to get this moving forward,” he says. “We’re super excited. We’re like a bunch of bulls in a china shop. We’ve started shaking the tree and running around, now we’ve created some waves and we’re not going to stop until we get what we need.”
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015