Government, charities work towards a solution to homelessness in Penticton

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PENTICTON - Progress is being made by a coaltion of several groups involved in a mission to find a solution to homelessness in Penticton.

About 25 people from government and local community groups have met to exchange information and ideas, and plan how they will move forward to find a solution to homelessness in the city.

“This is all so new to us, we’re learning," Keep the Cold Off Penticton's Mike Forster said as he gestured to the people assembled.

Newly elected NDP MP Richard Canning and Penticton bylaw officer Tina Siebert met with concerned citizens from several groups including Lighthouse Penticton, Downtown Churches for Social Justice, Interior Health, Keep the Cold off Penticton and Downtown Penticton Association.

Forster is one of the latest to join the effort. His one man initiative earlier this year to provide winter clothing to the city’s homeless has grown into non-profit society.

The coalition hopes to create a homeless shelter that will offer treatment services to help turn the lives of homeless people around in the hope they will become productive members of society again.

“We want to peel the layers, why are you addicted to alcohol or street drugs? Is there an abuse issue, molestation, psychiatric issues that aren’t being addressed, have they been diagnosed with a psychiatric problem, and if so, are they remembering to take their medication - and can they afford their medication?" Forster said.

"Education, training, job skills, that’s the whole process, so when they come out at the end, they are that taxpaying citizen everybody wants to see."

The group plans to meet again on Jan. 7, 2016 at the Soupateria Hall.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad at sarstad@infonews.ca or call 250-488-3065. To contact the editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.


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