The Central Okanagan Journey Home Society (COJHS) is aiming to end chronic homelessness in Kelowna by the end of 2025.
In its mid-term report to city council, the organization noted that hundreds of more supportive housing units will be needed over the next few years.
“We recognize that there are not currently any supportive housing units planned in our community, and we require another 516 by 2026,” said Stephanie Gauthier, executive director, COJHS. “The landscape of poverty and homelessness has changed since the JHS was released in 2018 and this report is an opportunity to re-calibrate and refocus our efforts to address homelessness.”
At least 318 new units have been provided in Kelowna since 2018, in partnership with BC Housing and funded by the province. The report also seeks to end veteran homelessness by September 2023, and connect 90 per cent of people visibly experiencing homelessness to services by the end of 2024.
Gauthier acknowledged the work the city has done with the Journey Home initiative, and that has changed Kelowna.
“Thanks to your support and advocacy 274 people have moved into supportive housing since 2017,” she added. “You have made an enormous impact on those people’s lives. Had we not acted we know we would have had over 700 people who would have experienced homelessness across March last year.”
Mayor Colin Basran asked Gauthier what she would say to critics regarding the need for another 517 supportive units.
“I hear the same conversations of ‘well if people can’t afford to live here they can move to Calgary.’ I think we don’t want to be that community. I think this is a community for everyone.”