Building off of their success from last year in getting more housing online in the city, 100 Homes Penticton has undergone a name change to 100 More Homes Penticton.
“Our name was updated as a result of our great success last year having been able to house about 130 local people who had been experiencing a housing shortage and homelessness,” said Linda Sankey with 100 More Homes during her presentation to city council at the meeting on Oct. 15.
Sankey and Jude Brunt, with South Okanagan Similkameen United Way, which champions the 100 More Homes program, updated council on the initiative’s goals for this year and further into the future in Penticton. The program is part of a larger, national program called 20,000 Homes and is organized by Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness.
“Our first goal (for this year) was to increase the amount of social housing available for people who have been experiencing homeless. So this year we are really excited because our goal was to house about another 78 people but with the opening of both Compass Court and Burdock House, we’re at 78 units just with new housing,” said Sankey. “So that doesn’t include the number of other people we’ve been able to place out in the community this year. In addition to that, the Compass Shelter has moved from one location to another and has been able to increase the number of people getting shelter there over its previous location.”
Brunt explained that the campaign also provides supports to those experiencing or who have previously experienced homelessness, such as mental health services, addiction services, life skills coaching, “and a whole variety of different supports in the community once someone is housed.” She said the program recently finished its application with the federal government’s Reaching Home: Canada’s Homelessness Strategy to receive funding for these services. If approved, this would mean an additional $300,000 annually for five years “to increase supports for homelessness, particularly on the prevention side of things.”
“We submitted our application on Sept. 20 on behalf of the City of Penticton, and we’re amongst 16 other competing cities that are looking for designated community status which would bring with it sustained funding over a five-year period,” said Brunt. “So Penticton is one in 16 that has applied, and there will be six chosen … I think we’ve put a strong application in and hopefully we’ll know by late-November if Penticton has been successful in that.”
Coun. Frank Regher said it’s important to put the $300,000 per year into context, noting that this amount could go a long way as it would be distributed to multiple programs and services through 100 More Homes Penticton and the South Okanagan Similkameen United Way.
Sankey said 100 More Homes will also be applying for another $75,000 in funding from a similar program to continue its services. She also explained how the campaign decides which applicants will receive housing, based on the vulnerability assessment which can be accessed at multiple non-profit organizations in the area.
“All of our individuals experiencing housing shortage through homelessness have been given the opportunity to connect with any number of non-profits to complete something called a vulnerability assessment. These assessments are completed by trained individuals who put a whole week in training to learn how to perform these assessments,” said Sankey. “It takes about an hour for each interview and then about two and a half hours to put an assessment together in writing afterwards. From those assessments, people will have their name on the list, those who are working within the community know what kind of supports they are needing. And we use that data to help us decide what kind of future housing and support the collective of those individuals will need in the future.”
Sankey said Compass Court and Burdock House are a “great start” to solving the city’s housing crisis, but their numbers show there are still many needing affordable housing. She did not provide exact data at the council meeting but mentioned they are working with another society, Built for Zero (formerly Zero:16), to improve the accuracy in their data recording in terms of the number of homeless people in Penticton and the region.
Both Sankey and Brunt expressed their excitement about the city potentially hiring manager of social development who would be responsible for “investing in appropriate human assets to keep our community safe and secure.”
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