Vernon’s All Saints Anglican Church recently played host to a discussion on how to address homelessness in the Okanagan.
Members of the Kelowna Homelessness Research Collaborative (KHRC) were on screen as part of the church’s 2022 speaker series Jan. 18, with roughly 70 people attending virtually from Kelowna to Sorrento. The discussion covered topics including the nature of homelessness, challenges and developments in Vernon, as well as public policy issues that need improving.
A video of the presentation was shared to YouTube after the event.
The discussion featured a number of professors and researchers at the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus, including Dr. John Graham, professor of social work; masters student Bethany Presley; Dr. Jon Corbett, professor of human geography; research director Stephanie Laing and research coordinator Kyler Woodmass.
Presley presented a case study of Vernon in her discussion of the state of homelessness in smaller communities, the subject of her masters thesis.
“Vernon has a population of around 43,000, yet 224 people are currently experiencing homelessness within the community,” Presley said. “Vernon is facing significant challenges in addressing the issue of homelessness without access to federal funding.”
The presentation provided an overview of the causes and solutions to homelessness in the region and discussed research into current hopeful initiatives in Vernon and Kelowna.
A number of participants weighed in on the issues at hand during the question and answer period.
“We are receiving incredible support from BC Housing/Province of BC but what we are missing is federal funding. The federal government has only added six communities to their homelessness program/funding since 2000,” said Annette Sharkey, executive director of the Social Planning Council for the North Okanagan.
The KHRC was established in 2019 to bring homelessness researchers and community partners together across the region.