Homelessness emerging as election issue in Kelowna despite Journey Home housing strategy | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Homelessness emerging as election issue in Kelowna despite Journey Home housing strategy

The Journey Home task force made recommendations how to end street homelessness in Kelowna.
September 14, 2018 - 3:30 PM

KELOWNA - A consultant to the Journey Home task force on homelessness in Kelowna cost taxpayers just a little more than it budgeted — $120,000.

Alina Turner Strategies provided consulting services during the Journey Home task force deliberations and consultations prior to the submission of its final report in June.

Turner is acknowledged as one of the leading experts in how to deal with urban homelessness and from her work with the task force emerged the five-year plan to end functional street homelessness.

The City of Kelowna budgeted $100,000 (not including $46,000 as an in kind contribution) and while the actual cost is still being tallied, the city tells iNFONews.ca the actual cost was roughly $120,000 or "less than $125,000."

It recommends the city spend $47 million to provide an array of supportive housing options including primary supportive housing for the chronic street homeless under the philosphy of Housing First.

Kelowna council endorsed the strategy in June but it is still in early stages as the task force works to create the “backbone” non-profit organization that is supposed to turn the strategy into reality.

Downtown safety has already emerged as a leading issue in the October 20 municipal election with some candidates accusing the current council of not doing enough to keep urban streets safe.

The location of Cornerstone emergency shelter on Leon Avenue and the length of its tenure have also riled some local businesses.

The 80-bed shelter opened in November 2017 in response to a surge in street homelessness.

Cornerstone is run by the John Howard Society of the Okanagan and is scheduled to close at the end of March, 2019.

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