As our communities grow and change, so do the challenges. Homelessness, which has a social and economic impact on every community in Canada, remains one of the most urgent.
Recently, I received a copy of Journey Home, the City of Kelowna’s strategy to address homelessness. The report provides a five year framework that will ensure a coordinated and accessible system of care for those in Kelowna who have lost, or are at risk of losing their home.
As noted in the report, Kelowna is home to many excellent services run by dedicated people and is a community ready and willing to collaborate to be effective.
I want to commend the city of Kelowna and all those who contributed to this comprehensive and well thought-out plan.
From the outset, our federal government has recognized the strain on communities to maintain safe, stable and affordable housing and to end homelessness.
In response, our government created Canada’s first-ever National Housing Strategy—a 10-year $40-billion plan to lift hundreds and thousands of Canadians out of housing need.
The federal government has also responded with a redesigned homelessness strategy, Reaching Home, which will double support for communities to address the needs of those experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness.
Throughout the engagement process, the government heard that the greatest asset of the current homelessness strategy is that it is a community-based program. Building on the successful adoption of Housing First as a best practice, decision making will remain at the local level. This will give communities greater flexibility to address local priorities, including using programming designed to meet the needs of different vulnerable populations including youth, women and children fleeing violence, seniors, indigenous communities, and veterans.
With Journey Home supporting local strategies and Reaching Home giving communities greater fiscal resources and more programming flexibility, our communities are now better equipped to provide independent and permanent housing to those who need it most.
We have arrived at a place where all three levels of government agree on the magnitude of this problem and we will now work together to take the steps required to drive better outcomes on homelessness in our community.
For my part, I will continue to work directly with our government to ensure our community has access to the funding and support it needs to reduce the risk of homelessness, help our most vulnerable citizens, and achieve our shared goal of building a more equal society for everyone.
Stephen Fuhr is the Member of Parliament for Kelowna-Lake Country and the Chair of the Standing Committee on National Defence
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