Letter: Homlessness not on Kelowna’s agenda

Community efforts to deal with the homeless "should be in place for the long term."

To the editor:

Homelessness is not a new phenomenon to our region. In 2005 a 4 Pillar Coalition identified 28 goals in a Drug and Alcohol plan. The call for action identified enforcement, treatment, prevention and harm reduction.

Kelowna put a roadmap in place. A drug coordinator was hired. Cardington Apartments, Willowbridge (CMHA), NOW (New Opportunities for Women) and New Gate Apartments (John Howard Society) all managed new housing projects. Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society had temporary apartments at the former La Mission.

Many agencies and churches filled other gaps and the Kelowna Gospel Mission, the food banks, Inn Out of the Cold and Interior Health Outreach continues to add supportive care. Ongoing affordable housing is provided by the Society of Hope and Habitat for Humanity. The Boys and Girls Club has temporary housing for youth at risk.

So what has happened? A four-pillar strategy is no longer in place. The coordinator position is no longer in place. Community Court is no longer in place. Homelessness awareness week is no longer in place. A priority

When homelessness issues improve, as they did a number of years ago, the work should not have stopped. It should be in place for the long term.

Sharon Shepherd,

former Kelowna mayor,

Kelowna