Panelists discuss new ways to address housing in the Okanagan

  • Feb. 8, 2018 3:00 p.m.

Cailan Libby recalls the moment well that inspired him to start his latest pilot project.

“In November I was on holiday in the United States and I found myself thinking about intergenerational living and how it could be a solution to the housing issues we have in Kelowna, and in the Okanagan.”

The result is iGen, a newly launched service that provides inter-generational living opportunities to students and seniors. Through iGen, the goal, Libby explained, is to address the issue of affordable housing, social isolation and loneliness.

He said the intention of iGen is not to generate an income, but to create a community. Libby hopes to launch the first iGen pairings in a few months and is currently accepting applications online.

Applications for iGen are available here

Libby, the CEO and co-founder of Happipad, an online platform that allows long-term property renting to be completed in real time, was one of four local innovators to showcase their “made-in-the-Okanagan” solutions to the current housing crisis during a panel discussion on the issue held at the Innovation Building in Kelowna Wednesday night.

The event was hosted by UBC and Okanagan College professors and included an eight-minute presentation by each panelist, followed by a question and answer period.

In addition to Libby, presenters included UBC professor and iSearch coordinator, Jon Corbett, UBC research engineer, Bryn Crawford, who is working on the university’s Homeless Personal Carrier project, and Tara Tschritter with Little House Contracting.

While Libby’s approach is to connect generations, Corbett believes he can help people by making it easier to connect those in need with services.

That’s the concept of iSearch, a website designed to assist individuals looking for low-income rentals, supportive housing or emergency shelters, by pinpointing the agencies that provide it.

Corbett says the site is currently only available on the web, but the intention is to create an app with updates made by service agencies, in real time. This, he added, would help users access services they need faster. He said it also will allows stakeholders to study “crucial” data that can be used to help improve and streamline services.

“Someone, who is, for example, looking for a bed and a hot meal, and maybe a place to store their stuff, is able to fill out the search fields and then be directed to all those services,” Corbet said.

Noting that an app will not solve the problems facing some of the Okanagan’s most vulnerable residents, Corbett said he believes it can help some people.

“It’s not a solution — homelessness and the issues surrounding it are complicated. These are wicked problems, there are no simple solutions but the more we can learn, the more closer we can get to making a meaningful contribution to solving some of these problems.”

Crawford echoes Corbett’s theory in describing his own innovation — the PBC (personal belongings cart — a moveable and securable buggy that can hold a homeless person’s possessions).

“Essentially, it’s difficult for a homeless person to manage their belongings. Often, they can’t leave them at an overnight shelter, and if they have an appointment, they end up leaving all their belongings by the side of the road. Often, those items will go missing and then they have to start collecting them all over again. So much of their focus becomes, understandably, on keeping track of their possessions.”

Often, he added, this comes at the detriment of accessing the services they need.

“Rather than leave the cart unattended, they just won’t go,” Crawford explained.

This kind of knowledge, he noted, comes first hand through interviews with people who live in shelters and on the street. Those interviews also provided him with information he says he never would have thought of, like the idea to include a cell phone charger on the PCB.

Local manufacturer Waterplay Solutions, contributed more than $9,500 in-kind to the project, to help with the prototype. Crawford said the team goal is to have five units ready for distribution in Kelowna shortly. They will be distributed to five local service agencies who would decide who gets to test them out.

While she admits that currently, her company, Little House Contracting Corp. can be considered “attainable” rather than “affordable” housing, in the strictest sense of the word, Tara Tschritter says the concept of micro homes, when placed in a backyard as a second dwelling, are a great way live in a more and more “cost-effective” way. In regard to affordable homes for people with lower incomes, Tschritter said she, through her company, intend to contribute, but require some sort of financial sponsorship or a partnership to “make that happen.”

Erin Christie


@VernonNews
newstips@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Panelists Cailan Libby, Jon Corbett, Tara Tschritter and Bryn Crawford, share their ideas during a discussion on local innovations in housing and homelessness, at the Innovation Building in downtown Kelowna Wednesday night. (Erin Christie/Morning Star) Panelists Cailan Libby, Jon Corbett, Tara Tschritter and Bryn Crawford, share their ideas during a discussion on local innovations in housing and homelessness, at the Innovation Building in downtown Kelowna Wednesday night. (Erin Christie/Morning Star)
Tara Tschritter, of Little House Contracting talks about the benefits of little house living during a panel discussion on housing and homelessness in the Okanagan held Wednesday night in Kelowna. (Erin Christie/Morning Star)
UBC research engineer, Bryn Crawford shares an early design of the a personal belongings cart — a moveable and securable buggy that can hold a homeless person’s possessions, during a panel discussion on housing and homelessness held at the Innovation Building in Kelowna Wednesday night. (Erin Christie/Morning Star)

Just Posted

‘Bullet missed me by an inch’: Man recounts friend’s killing at Kamloops hotel

Penticton man witnessed Summerland resident Rex Gill’s murder in Kamloops

Rutland rallies behind Chiefs impressive season

The Kelowna Chiefs will finish atop the KIJHL, and conclude season this weekend in Rutland

City of Kelowna raises concerns over safety, policing with COG organizers

The mayor said it was a mutual decision between organizers and the city to postpone the festival

B.C. BUDGET: Surplus $374 million after bailouts of BC Hydro, ICBC

Growth projected stronger in 2020, Finance Minister Carole James says

Kelowna Rockets make stop at B.C. Parliament building

The hockey team snapped a picture while in Victoria Tuesday

VIDEO: 8 things you need to know about the 2019 B.C. budget

Surplus of $247 million with spending on children, affordability and infrastructure

Crash closes highway between Vernon and Lumby

Traffic being routed around the scene

Vehicle located in 2018 Shuswap abduction attempt

Chase RCMP say car used has since been sold, suspect still at large

Hergott: Uncertainty of personal injury claims

Lawyer Paul Hergott tackles personal injury claims in his latest column

Cougar ‘living’ next door to Okanagan elementary school

Conservation Office has been alerted and monitoring large cat

Dog dies in Kamloops RV fire

According to a fundraiser posted on social media, the cause of the fire was electrical

B.C. BUDGET: Income assistance raise still leaves many below poverty line

$50 per month increase included in funding for poverty and homelessness reduction

B.C. BUDGET: Indigenous communities promised billions from gambling

Extended family caregiver pay up 75 per cent to keep kids with relatives

B.C. BUDGET: New benefit increases family tax credits up to 96 per cent

BC Child Opportunity Benefit part of province’s efforts to reduce child poverty

Most Read