Kamloops is the only Interior B.C. city to take part in this unique homelessness project | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kamloops is the only Interior B.C. city to take part in this unique homelessness project

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KAMLOOPS - Kamloops has been taking part in a national pilot project to help eliminate homelessness and this week the community has upped the ante by signing up for a national campaign.

In total, 21 communities from across the country joined the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness in launching the 20,000 Homes Campaign.

Modelled after a successful U.S. program, the goal of the campaign is to offer permanent housing to 20,000 of Canada’s ‘most vulnerable homeless people’ by July 2018.

"The 20,000 Homes Campaign is a grassroots movement of communities working together to permanently house some of our most vulnerable homeless neighbours," Tim Richter, President and CEO of the Canadian association says. "Homelessness is a solvable problem and we believe if we work together, apply proven strategies like Housing First, we'll achieve meaningful, nationwide reductions in homelessness within three years."

The campaign will focus on homeless individuals with complex needs and who are at risk of death from homelessness, and those who are ‘chronic or episodically’ homeless. By quickly moving people into independent and permanent housing with supports and services, the approach is considered recovery-oriented.

Salt Spring Island and Sechelt-Sunshine Coast are the only other B.C. communities to sign on so far, though more cities are expected to join in the coming months. However, standing in the way of that may be a lack of information about the program. Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran says he had never heard of the program before reading about it in the news this morning.

"It's interesting that only 21 communities have signed on amongst the hundreds of communities across Canada, so I'm guessing we're not alone. However, we will certainly look into it."

The hope is to build public support and renewed federal funding in housing and support services. An October 2014 report claimed a federal housing investment of $46 per Canadian, per year, for 10 years, could ‘effectively end homelessness’ and reduce the length of stays in emergency shelters to less than two weeks.

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To contact a reporter for this story, email Jennifer Stahn at jstahn@infonews.ca or call 250-819-3723. To contact an editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

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