Randy Benson is the executive director of the Kelowna Gospel Mission.

Randy Benson: Don’t judge a book by its cover

Guest editorialist Randy Benson says number one reason for homelessness is affordable housing

You know the adage “You can’t judge a book by its cover?”

The same is true of Kelowna’s Gospel Mission. Drive down the 200 block of Leon Avenue and you may well see a handful of people standing or sitting around on either side of the street.

To too many people in Kelowna, that IS Kelowna’s Gospel Mission.

But nothing could be further from the truth. Inside the walls is a totally different story.

The average number of people we serve in a day is around 200.

Of those, 33 per cent have a place to live and use our services of food and support in order to remain housed. Fifty per cent of the people that come through our doors have an active case plan and are working with a case worker to achieve independence and self-sustenance.

Many individuals with disabilities end up at our emergency shelter, not because of addictions or mental health issues, but because they cannot even afford a room to rent in Kelowna’s present housing market.

In our experience we have found the number one reason for homelessness in Kelowna is the lack of affordable housing.

I am encouraged that the City of Kelowna now has a staff member to address homelessness and social issues.

The goal of this position, called the Social Development Manager, is to develop a community strategy to address homelessness.

It has been shown throughout other cities in Canada that when a local government takes ownership and gets involved in the issues of homelessness, positive things happen.

The homeless individual of today no longer fits the stereotypical image of years past. In fact, it is very possible that you interact with someone who is homeless without even knowing it.

Many of those who stay with us are working, or looking for jobs, and find themselves in this precarious situation as a result of economic downturns, rising costs, and a series of unfortunate circumstances. Many in our community live from paycheck to paycheck, and it would only take one unforeseen negative incident and they could find themselves without a roof over their head. Homelessness touches us all, which reminds me of another adage – “There but for the Grace of God go I.”

—Randy Benson, executive director of Kelowna’s Gospel Mission

Just Posted

Robot caretakers could be in your future

Interior Health CEO says AI will revolutionalize medical care

Kelowna walk sheds light on blood cancer darkness

The Light The Night Walk takes Saturday, April 21, from Waterfront Park

Driving Change: A Kelowna man’s charitable trip across Canada

A Kelowna man, his bus, and his mission for positive change across our country

Kelowna examines options to connect Rutland with rail trail

Public feedback on the four options is available online until May 6

Wanted man nabbed after flipping car in Kelowna

A wanted man is now facing charges

Kelowna properties flooded along Heimlich Road

Flooding started on Spiers Road Tuesday and continued into properties, said an area resident

Locals play their part in Cirque’s Crystal in Penticton

It’s no easy task when it comes to unloading 17 semis full of equipment

Countdown is on to the 2018 B.C. Summer Games

Cowichan Valley hosts on July 19-22

Case of teacher secretly filming teens reaches top court

Acquittal of teacher, Ryan Jarvis, who secretly videoed teens ‘dangerous,’ top court told

The “industry will collapse” : South Okanagan winery reacts to ruling

Okanagan Falls winery concerned for the future of the industry after Supreme Court ruling

Why a 14-year-old will lead the charge at annual marijuana protest on the Hill

Marijuana enthusiasts have long been circling April 20 on their calendars as annual day of cannabis

B.C. communities await marine spill compensation years after incidents

The government maintains a Ship Source Oil Pollution Fund to compensate Canadians

RCMP say too early to know what happened in Broncos crash

RCMP Assistant Commissioner Curtis Zablocki said collission very complex

Rock titans rule Prospera Place

Peter Frampton and Steve Miller have been friends for 51 years.

Most Read