Social housing mapping tool first of its kind in Central Okanagan - InfoNews

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Social housing mapping tool first of its kind in Central Okanagan

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April 03, 2017 - 6:30 PM

KELOWNA - A new project is helping people in Kelowna find housing with the click of a button.

i-Search Kelowna is a mapping tool designed to help people looking for emergency shelters, supportive housing or low-income rentals.

With all the resources out there, finding a home that fits your needs can be a daunting task. However, i-Search has compiled information and resources in Kelowna so users are able to answer a few questions and are then given results catered to their needs.

“We wanted to make it easy for users, by using very logical search tools,” UBC Okanagan PhD Candidate and member of the research team Shelley Cook says. “There’s a number of different ways people can search that takes them very quickly to the results they need.”

The one of a kind, Okanagan-based project has over 80 data fields according to Cook.

“This project required a mass amount of information fields,” Cook said. “Managing that in a way that worked and functioned as a public tool was definitely challenging.”

Discussions for the project started in fall of 2015, with the project officially starting in May, 2016. It was not until the last week of March, 2017 that the project launched.

Cook, who was the executive director for the John Howard Society in Kelowna for 11 years, says she hopes the tool shines a light on the needs surrounding affordable housing in the region.

“As much as this is a resource that can show the public what Kelowna has to offer, it shows where we’re lacking resources as well,” she said. “We have a fairly significant need in terms of capacity and affordability in the Okanagan.”

For now, Cook says she is interested in seeing how the project evolves with more and more people using it.

“Sometimes people are scared of technology, but people also need to be open to the good it can do.”

Funding for the $80,000 project came from the Central Okanagan Foundation, the United Way, UBC and technology groups.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Jenna Hickman or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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