May 11, 2016 - 5:00 PM
KELOWNA - The first statistical snapshot of the homeless in Kelowna has revealed few surprises but will provide a solid baseline for future measurement, organizers say.
The count, conducted by the Central Okanagan Foundation, identifed and interviewed 233 homeless people in Kelowna on the night of Feb. 24, which included people in shelters and 69 people sleeping rough in alleys, doorways and other places considered uninhabitable.
“There were 233 at least, there could be more,” count coordinator Mia Burgess says. “Point-in-time tends to capture more chronically homeless, people who’ve been on the streets six months or more.”
They were mainly male between 25 and 64 years old, disproportionately aboriginal and much more likely than the general population to have a substance abuse problem or mental illness. Women made up 29 per cent, one per cent were transgendered and most were on disability or drawing income assistance.
Inabilty to pay rent and eviction was the top reason for being homeless, given by 20 per cent of the respondents, followed closely by 19 per cent who say they were evicted for other reasons.
Kelowna was one of 30 urban areas across Canada selected for the coordinated point-in-time count, funded under the federal homelessness partnering strategy, a program of Employment and Social Development Canada.
Kelowna city councillors, lead by Mayor Colin Basran, have declared homelessness an issue the city wants to become more involved in and are hiring a homelessness coordinator to help local agencies better coordinate their efforts, while also pushing for federal and provincial funding and grants.
Find more stories on homeless in Kelowna here.
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