Alina Turner, a consultant hired to guide the work of the task force set up by the City of Kelowna to develop a plan to address homelessness in the city addresses council Monday as task force co-chair Martin Bell looks on.—Image: Alistair Waters/Capital News

Alina Turner, a consultant hired to guide the work of the task force set up by the City of Kelowna to develop a plan to address homelessness in the city addresses council Monday as task force co-chair Martin Bell looks on.—Image: Alistair Waters/Capital News

Consultant puts Kelowna homeless count close to 2,000

The true number is much higher than previously reported in a snapshot survey

The consultant hired to lead Kelowna’s ambitious bid to end homelessness says the number of people in the city who experience homelessness throughout the year is roughly 1,900, much higher than a snapshot survey of the homeless identified nearly two years ago.

In February of 2016, a Point In Time survey—which Alina Turner described as exactly that, a point in time picture—identified 233 people as homeless in Kelowna, 60 per cent of whom were considered “chronically homeless.”

But Turner, who has worked with cities across the country to develop plans to address homelessness, said the real number here is much higher, closer to 2,000.

She gave city council an update of the plan Monday, saying work has been ongoing by the task force that the city created to spearhead its Journey Home plan since last fall.

And she said the task force is on track to have a draft plan ready in April and a final plan to present to council in June after public consultation.

She said the plan will be realistic and have measurable targets, but she warned it alone will not be the silver bullet. She said dealing with the issue of homelessness will require ongoing work by the community, including the city, and lobbying efforts to convince other surrounding communities to do the same.

Related story: National organizations to aid Kelowna homelessness strategy

Because there is such a low vacancy rate in the city, funding will be needed to build affordable housing and that, she warned, will be a “considerable capital ask.”

Turner said the key will be a “housing first” strategy, where housing is considered a right, not something a homeless person has to show they are worthy of.

And in some cases, it might also require what Turned called “relentless engagement” to bring services to the homeless who do not want to go into conventional housing.

The plan could follow other communities that have had success in addressing homelessness by making sure a person identified as homeless gets into some form of housing within a few days of being identified.

Medicine Hat, AB has been pointed to as an example of success after it announced last year it had eradicated homelessness there.

But Turner said while the per capita rate of homelessness in Medicine Hat rivalled the much larger City of Calgary, it is different from Kelowna where there is a large number of people from elsewhere coming here.

That prompted Coun. Charlie Hodge to ask if the city was a victim of its own success at providing services for the homeless.

Turner said possibly, but other factors like climate are also at play. And she added, most areas with homelessness problems also have large migrant populations.

On Monday, in addition to receiving the update on the work being done by the task force, council also added another two members to the task force.

Co-chair Martin Bell told council that with one-quarter of the homeless in the city identified as Indigenous, it was felt more Indigenous representatives should be on the task force.

So a representative of the Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society and the Westbank First Nation were added. The task force now has 23 members.

To report a typo, email: edit@kelownacapnews.com.



awaters@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kelowna International Airport. (Contributed)
Contactless parking payment available at YLW

Kelowna International Airport parking now compatible with the PayByPhone application

Good Samaritan Mountainview Village located at 1540 KLO Road in Kelowna. (Good Samaritan Society)
Outbreak at Kelowna long term care home declared over

Penticton, Kelowna long term care home outbreaks declared over Jan. 20

Calls for potential overdoses in B.C. spiked in 2020, especially in the Okanagan - Shuswap. Pictured above is a BCEHS re-enactment of paramedics attending an overdose. (BCHES)
Overdose calls spike in 2020 across the Okanagan – Shuswap

Stats show every major community in Okanagan - Shuswap increased in calls for potential overdoses

The Regional District of North Okanagan is cautioning residents to watch for rock slides along the Okanagan Rail Trail during freeze-thaw season. (RDNO photo)
Residents urged to watch for rockfalls on Okanagan Rail Trail

RDNO reminds rail trail travellers to heed rockfall warning signs during freeze-thaw season

(Pixabay photo)
‘Cocaine bananas’ arrive at Kelowna grocery stores after mix up from Colombia: RCMP

Kelowna RCMP recently concluded an international drug investigation after finding cocaine in local grocers’ banana shipments in 2019

Charlotte is one of the resident pigs at Star's Piggly Wiggly's Sanctuary near Kelowna. (Twila Amato - Black Press Media)
Kelowna-area pig sanctuary needs a new home

Star’s Piggly Wiggly’s Sanctuary is looking for properties in Vernon, Coldstream, and Enderby

Southern resident killer whales in B.C. waters. Research shows the population’s females are more negatively influenced by vessel traffic than males. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Female orcas less likely to feed in presence of vessel traffic: study

Research the southern resident population raises concerns over reproduction capacity

(Black Press Media files)
Transport Canada not budging on enclosed deck rules, despite calls from BC Ferries union

There have been at least 23 cases of the U.K. variant detected in Canada, four of which are in B.C.

The Elk Valley Hospital is adapting to meet the needs of patients in the Elk Valley.
One in five tests in Fernie area coming back positive: doctor

Dr Ron Clark of Elk Valley Hospital said one in five tests was returning positive for COVID-19

Throughout December, RCMP conducted CounterAttack road checks as police worked to keep roads free of impaired drivers. (BLACK PRESS file photo)
From the “You can’t make this stuff up” file – stories from the BC CounterAttack campaign

Amusing, yes, but a reminder impaired driving affects ability to drive and to make good decisions

(Thesendboys/Instagram)
Video of man doing backflip off Vancouver bridge draws police condemnation

Group says in Instagram story that they ‘don’t do it for the clout’

Inspection of bridge crossing on a B.C. forest service road. (B.C. Forest Practices Board)
B.C. falling behind in maintenance of forest service roads

Auditor finds nearly half of bridges overdue for repair

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A cow moose wanders around the Silver Star Elementary School neighbourhood Tuesday, Jan. 19. (Contributed)
Public provoking blamed for moose chasing Okanagan residents

‘The problem is people are bugging it’ conservation officer

Most Read