The Alliance Against Displacement’s (AAD) Listen Chen stands in front of a group of people campaigning for improved rights and treatment towards people living homeless on Leon Avenue in Kelowna. (Mackenzie Britton - Capital News)

The Alliance Against Displacement’s (AAD) Listen Chen stands in front of a group of people campaigning for improved rights and treatment towards people living homeless on Leon Avenue in Kelowna. (Mackenzie Britton - Capital News)

‘Homes not shelters’: Those living on Kelowna streets rally for rights

On Tuesday, Leon Avenue residents came together to demand change

Residents experiencing homelessness along Leon Avenue are fed up with their poor living conditions and are demanding the city take action.

On Tuesday, residents held a media gathering with the Alliance Against Displacement (AAD) group, to draw attention to their situation and set out a list of four demands, including more housing options, no unlawful searches of their tents, no more theft by police and electrical options for heating.

Listen Chen, a spokesperson for the organization, said that among the four demands, the biggest grievance is the ongoing violations of the residents’ Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“Treating poor and homeless people as if they don’t have rights, as if they’re not entitled to having personal possessions and privacy, that sends a message to the public that these people are not fully human,” said Chen.

READ MORE: Kelowna homeless to demand improvements to their living conditions

Chen said her organization spent last weekend collecting signatures and speaking to residents living on Leon Avenue before narrowing their list of demands.

“It’s cold out here,” said Deanna Cowens, a woman who has experienced homelessness for several years.

“We need places for all, that have heat. We don’t want to live by other peoples’ rules, we want to do what we want to do and there’s nothing out here for us that we can afford. There are no options.”

Cowens said people don’t want to live in shelters because of the rules that limit their guests, their belongings and their livelihoods.

She said they are also tired of the abuse from law enforcement and city bylaw officers who allegedly throw out or steal their belongings.

While the current social housing conditions in Kelowna were noted as good options for some, the overwhelming consensus from the Leon Avenue residents is that there aren’t enough options.

The Central Okanagan Journey Home Society is one of the many city partners that work to address the ongoing issues of chronic and episodic homelessness in Kelowna.

Journey Home board chair Kyleen Myrah said that the AAD’s new involvement could complicate that work.

“It’s a frustrating distraction,” said Myrah in response to AAD’s Tuesday press conference.

“We recognize that the situation on Leon Avenue is not acceptable or sustainable. It is more important than ever to stay the course and focus our efforts, continuing to work collaboratively towards the development of community-based solutions to our issues.”

READ MORE: Bike parts, lawnmowers dumped at West Kelowna Salvation Army thrift store

Brendan Jeffrey who’s been on and off the streets for the last six years with his wife Caitlyn said that though they both work, they may not be able to afford a place indoors when winter hits its peak.

“We’re doing everything we can to make sure we’re warm and safe,” said Jeffrey.

“I want to see housing for everybody and keep it affordable. I’d like to see all of us off the street and have affordable housing so we could actually get our own space, we can actually stay out of the cold.”

The demands from the AAD and Leon Avenue residents have yet to be addressed by Kelowna city council.

To report a typo, email:
newstips@kelownacapnews.com
.


@KelownaCapNews
newstips@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Penticton's Global Grocers, an expansion of Oliver's Global Grocers will be opening up around the end of April. (Facebook)
Penticton to get taste of global flavour with new grocer in April

Oliver’s Global Grocers are opening up their new store by the start of May

Jaimee Peters photo of a Willow Midwives helping with a birth. Willow is closing its doors March 31 because of a shortage of midwives. (Contributed)
Petition to save South Okanagan’s only midwife clinic nears 3,000 signatures

After 12 years, Willow Community Midwives has to close its doors due to a shortage of midwives

Calls for potential overdoses in B.C. spiked in 2020, especially in the Okanagan - Shuswap. Pictured above is a BCEHS re-enactment of paramedics attending an overdose. (BCHES photo)
UBCO program increases drug checking availability in Kelowna, Penticton, Vernon

January 2021 data shows of 95 opioid samples tested across Interior Health, 93 contained fentanyl

Youth from Vernon, Kelowna, Penticton and the Kootenays were able to dig into two evenings of online learning and connection through United Way Southern Interior B.C.’s <CODE>anagan program. (Submitted)<code> </code>
CODEanagan gives youth a chance to learn about technology

The youth, aged 12 to 21, built their own WordPress sites and developed blogging ideas

A rainbow shining on Kelowna General Hospital on May 12, 2020 International Nurses Day. (Steve Wensley - Prime Light Media)
New COVID cases trending down in Interior Health

24 new cases reported Thursday, Feb. 25, death at Kelowna General Hospital

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

The Salmon Arm Economic Development Society released a video on Feb. 22, 2021 promoting agriculture and food production in Salmon Arm and the Shuswap. (SAEDS image)
New video promotes Salmon Arm staples of agriculture, food production

Three-minute video from economic development featuring local producers receives appreciative reviews

One person was extricated from a vehicle that rolled off Highway 97 Feb. 25, 2021, near Clerke Road in Coldstream around 2 p.m. (Roger Knox - Vernon Morning Star)
Two hurt in Highway 97 rollover south of Vernon

Ambulance transfers two patients with non-life-threatening injuries

The BC Prosecution Service announced last year that it was appointing lawyer Marilyn Sandford as a special prosecutor to review the case, following media inquiries about disclosure issues linked to a pathologist involved in the matter. (Black Press Media files)
Possible miscarriage of justice in B.C. woman’s conviction in toddler drowning: prosecutor

Tammy Bouvette was originally charged with second-degree murder but pleaded guilty in 2013 to the lesser charge

A puppy stolen from a West Kelowna residence has been reunited with its family. (Kelowna RCMP)
Stolen puppy reunited with Central Okanagan owners

A happy ending; puppy stolen from West Kelowna vehicle found in Kelowna, returned to family

A kid in elementary school wearing a face mask amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Metro Creative)
Union asks why an elementary school mask rule wouldn’t work in B.C. if it does elsewhere

B.C. education minister announced expansion of mask-wearing rules in middle, high school but not elementary students

A pharmacist prepares a COVID-19 vaccine at Village Green Retirement Campus in Federal Way on Jan. 26. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
Canada approves use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine

The country joins more than a dozen others in giving the shot the green light

Veteran Vernon radio announcer Frank Martina is returning to the local airwaves with his popular Saturday Classics show, which will run from 1-4 p.m. on Vernon’s new community station Valley FM, set to launch in the fall of 2021. (Morning Star - file photo)
Vernon radio announcer returning to airwaves

New community station Valley FM reaches deal with Frank Martina to air his Classics show

Most Read