Kelowna adopts ambitious Journey Home strategy to end homelessness | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kelowna adopts ambitious Journey Home strategy to end homelessness

Dr. Alina Turner, a consultant advising the Journey Home task force, addresses Kelowna council, Monday, June 25, 2018.
June 25, 2018 - 4:34 PM

KELOWNA - If all goes according to plan, Kelowna will reach functional zero homelessness by 2024.

That’s the main premise and promise behind the Journey Home recommendations adopted today, June 25, by Kelowna city council.

Calling it the most important work of the current council, Mayor Colin Basran welcomed the new initiative even as he questioned whether the plan could deliver the sense of safety that many people say is missing in downtown Kelowna because of street homelessness and attendant crime.

The five-year $47-million plan will see the addition of 110 units of supportive housing to the 180 already under negotiation or construction with B.C. Housing.

If successful, the plan would support approximately 2,100 people either experiencing homelessness or living in precarious housing situations, consultant Dr. Alina Turner told councillors.

That would include 350 or so street homeless, living on the streets or in emergency shelters, who would be amongst the first to receive help under the Housing First philosophy that underpins the Journey Home recommendations.

Kelowna council has committed to $435,000 funding through 2020 to support the creation of a “backbone organization”, a neutral non-profit society aligned with the City of Kelowna tasked with ensuring the plan moves forward.

The backbone organization will need $2.7 million to fund its work over the life of the plan, part of which is to guide the fundraising of the $18 million in private donations necessary to build the remaining housing units.

Another $26 million from senior government will fund 500 program spaces for people who are at imminent risk of homelessness by providing them with “wrap-around” support.

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