Kelowna won't renew agreement with society tasked with fighting homelessness | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kelowna won't renew agreement with society tasked with fighting homelessness


When the Journey Home Society started working five years ago it aimed to bring Kelowna to effectively-zero homelessness by 2024. That hasn’t happened and now about 150 people are sleeping outdoors in the city every night.

“The landscape around homelessness has changed dramatically since 2018 when the Journey Home Strategy was introduced,” Mayor Tom Dyas said in a news release issued today, July 25.

“We see people experiencing homelessness who never have before, and rapid growth in the number of people sheltering outside. Despite the gains we have made in establishing more housing solutions, we see a clear need for the City to strengthen its commitment and show momentum as a leader.”

The city has been a major funder of the organization over the years, but will not renew its agreement at the end of 2023.

“This decision follows a planned review of the first five-year implementation of the Journey Home Strategy,” the news release said. “The review was carried out in early 2023 and involved significant engagement with social-serving sector partners. A key finding of the review was that the sector wanted to see the City take on a greater role in implementation to support community efforts.”

There have been more than 300 supportive housing units built in the city since 2018 but none in recent years.

“The Central Okanagan Journey Home Society has been central to that accomplishment and many others which will have lasting benefit in our community,” Dyas said. “Homelessness is increasing and we must take a renewed approach.”

The city is in the process of assembling a team and working with sector partners. It will take over the file at the start of next year. More details will be announced this fall.

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