Task force to tackle problem of chronic homelessness in Kelowna | Kelowna News | iNFOnews

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Task force to tackle problem of chronic homelessness in Kelowna

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September 14, 2017 - 9:30 AM

KELOWNA - By design, members of the Journey Home homelessness task force come from a variety of backgrounds and their own unique reasons for getting involved.

For Gaelene Askeland, the one-year term is really a continuation of her work and what she sees coming for Kelowna.

“This city is poised for huge growth. This is an opportunity to make a difference before that growth takes over and we can’t even get a grip on it,” the executive director of the Central Okanagan John Howard Society says. “If we put our heads down now and get stuff done, we can look back at how the city took leadership and we made a difference.”

Askeland says she’s excited about the broad make-up of the task force and some of the people who chose to get involved — they had to put their own names forward for council consideration.

“Some were a little unexpected,” she admits. “But this seems like a group of doers. None of us has the time to waste talking this to death. I just really want to see this work and I feel confident we can make a difference."

The 21-member task force is the latest step in a process begun two years ago when Mayor Colin Basran and Kelowna city council declared homelessness as one of six council priorities.

Members were selected by committee using a skills and knowledge inventory matrix, according to the report heard by council on Monday, and the task force itself was expanded to 21 members from 15 to ensure diversity.

Council announced the appointment of co-chairs Martin Bell and Kyleen Myrah this summer, following the hiring last year of social development manager Sue Wheeler in 2016.

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