Homelessness and housing strategies are the focus of a giant report in front of Vernon council.
Consultants with Urban Matters, along with the Social Planning Council of the North Okanagan, presented a mammoth report titled Moving Forward: Building Homes, Strengthening Community – Vernon Housing and Homelessness Strategies to council Monday.
“It will be up to the Partners in Action committee and City of Vernon to review the recommendations in the report,” said Annette Sharkey, executive director of the Social Planning Council. “It’s an extensive review.”
Consultants Matt Thomson and Celine Mauboules broke down the report into strategies and recommendations for homelessness and attainable housing strategies.
Mauboules focused on three areas of the homelessness strategy: systems planning, strengthening services and public education and awareness. Under each are a number of recommendations that relate to the topic.
Thomson’s report on attainable housing also had three main strategies with recommendations for each: investing in attainable housing; regulating and incentivizing attainable housing; and building support for attainable housing.
Attainable housing is listed as average/medium income households that have been priced out of the market. The report also pushes for affordable housing for residents classed as low-income and possibly at risk of homelessness.
Vernon Mayor Victor Cumming felt the moves the city has recently undertaken to address additional housing units should be mentioned in the report.
“We did tremendous work in 2018 and we have a series of housing units coming up in 2019, including one that came on-stream in the last two weeks (My Place),” said Cumming. “If the report had those magnitudes, it could say ‘here’s the size of the problem, 160 homeless (from last census), and we’ve put out 40 new units in the last two weeks and we’re expecting these many more by the end of June, some that are physically under construction, here’s what we see.’ You could show what’s coming on for new inventory, then clarify the magnitude of the issue.
“You’re close…It’s important to reflect what’s happened in Vernon after 2016.”
Council asked staff to report back with a housing implementation strategy which includes completing of a housing needs assessment to be informed by councils draft strategic plan 2019-22, and organizational capacity and resources. The Homelessness recommendations in the report will be referred to Partners In Action for its information and action as appropriate.