Kelowna city council has endorsed a paper set to guide a regional, housing-first approach to supporting unhoused people with complex needs.
The Complex Needs Advocacy Paper is to be used by Central Okanagan municipalities to advocate for provincial funding for infrastructure and resources, and the creation of a new, integrated model of housing and health care supports.
The paper was led by the city’s social development and real estate services department. It aims to take a regional approach to housing issues in the area.
Council’s endorsement authorizes Mayor Colin Basran to collaborate with the mayors of Vernon, West Kelowna, the District of Lake Country and the chief of the Okanagan Indian Band to advocate the provincial government for resources and funding to build and maintain complex-care housing.
“I look forward to working with other municipal leaders and the provincial government as we ensure people with complex needs have access to safe, reliable housing and the supports they need,” said Basran after council endorsed the document on Monday, July 12.
There are approximately 520 people experiencing homelessness in the Central Okanagan, according to a statement by the City of Kelowna. Nearly half of those individuals experience complex needs. Many unhoused people with complex needs are falling through the cracks because they cannot access supportive housing models and programs currently available.
“Every person who experiences complex needs is an individual with their own unique history and journey. They often experience a broad range of overlapping impacts to their overall health and wellbeing,” said Stephanie Ball, executive director for the Central Okanagan Journey Home Society.
The paper is part of the Journey Home Society’s housing first model. The model outlines a person-centred approach with the belief that everyone deserves housing. The Housing First model also believes that everyone can move directly from homelessness to housing with appropriate resources and supports. The Complex Needs Advocacy Paper is a step towards the Journey Home Society’s goal of eliminating homelessness by 2024.
“We all need to continue to work together, as one entity,” said Ball.