The Journey Home strategy appears to have caused some stress for Kelowna City councillors, but we’re pleased to see they supported it nonetheless.
While deciding whether or not to approve a $47 million plan to address the homelessness crisis in Kelowna, a few councillors cited a project from 12 years ago that saw 160 housing units created and filled. Their furrowed brows are rooted in the fact that the homelessness rates in Kelowna have only risen in this city since that project.
And least one local politician expressed hesitation to approve another not-for-profit effort that will take resources from other similar private organizations.
These are legitimate concerns, but as a compassionate society we should keep trying to address this issue with the newest information available.
People who are living on the streets did not choose this life for themselves. There are so many reasons for homelessness that if compiled and written on a scroll, would unravel to the floor and trail down the hallway of City Hall.
Housing-first projects have become increasingly popular in other urban hubs and are being looked to as the most effective way to connect people who have been homeless with the needed services for reintegrating into society.
The Journey Home strategy includes a transition plan that its proponents hope will ensure homelessness is a rare occurrence in our community within six-years.
It is understandable and responsible that some members of Kelowna’s City Council are hesitant about pricey promises to end homelessness, given they are obliged to use our tax dollars in the most responsible way.
But we believe this may be the most responsible way for this community to invest in itself. These 300 new units may give marginalized people a second chance at life and an opportunity to contribute to society.
The initial cost is an investment, not only these people’s future but also the rest of Kelowna’s future. The programs and support that the Journey Home strategy will provide men and women who are currently vulnerable the tools needed to regain control of their lives.
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