The city progress is being made on its Journey Home strategy to address homelessness in Kelowna. —Image: Carli Berry/Capital News

Kelowna’s strategy to address homelessness making headway says city

More than $830,000 of the $2.7 million needed to get the strategy going has now been raised

The City of Kelowna says significant progress has been made towards the implementation of its Journey Home Strategy to address homelessness since over the last four months.

The strategy was endorsed by Kelowna city council on June 25 and calls for 300 units of supportive housing in Kelowna.

According to the city, some of these units are now under construction and nearing completion.

“By the end of 2018, the first 88 units of supportive housing will open and will result in 88 of Kelowna’s chronically homeless population receiving housing in a 24/7 supported environment,” said Ann Howard, regional director of B.C. Housing in the Interior.

“The most recent Point-In-Time count of individuals living without homes in Kelowna totals approximately 286 people. The 88 units opening this year are a solid and welcome start for the community and means that people will be helped off of the street in a sustainable and supportive way.”

The Journey Home transition team has also raised $836,000 towards its goal of $2.7 million.

Donors from all walks of life are investing in the community initiative, including local business leaders and philanthropists such as David and Donara Krysko and Kim Priebe who have each committed $200,000 to the start-up of the backbone organization.

“We don’t see this as a donation,” said Dave Krysko, “It is an investment—in people. When you invest, you look for a return, an outcome. That is exactly what we are doing.”

The development of a single entity to coordinate and lead the community’s response to end homelessness was a key recommendation in the Journey Home strategy. A new backbone organization – a not-for-profit society – is now in place and will focus on funding coordination, homeless system planning, establishment of a centralized intake for homeless services, capacity building, leadership and accountability, funding and service partnerships and innovative ways to achieve the goals of the Strategy.

The $2.7 million will fund the backbone organization over the next five years.

“We learned from the community that efforts to end homelessness in Kelowna will only progress if a specific organization is focused on coordinating activities and investments that will yield housing and supports for the homeless community,” said Kyleen Myrah, Journey Home transition team co-chair.

“The social issues our community faces are complex and can only be solved by working together along with strong guidance from those who have lived experience with homelessness. No single organization or government can solve homelessness alone, but working together, we can address it.”

The Journey Home transition team is now focused on filling out the board of directors for the backbone organization and hiring a full-time executive director to lead its efforts. Both tasks are expected to be completed by the end of 2018.

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