Deanna Cowens joined in the demand for better conditions for Kelowna’s homeless in a press conference staged in 2019 by the advocacy group the Alliance Against Displacement. (Photo: Mackenzie Britton - Capital News)

Kelowna awarded $3.2 million grant to tackle homelessness

The grant comes after emergency shelter operations had to be reduced due to the COVID-19 pandemic

City of Kelowna received a $3.2 million grrant to support more critical services for people experiencing homelessness.

The grant is provided from the Strengthening Communities’ Services Program by the Canadian and B.C. governments. The grant will be used by the city, PEOPLE Employment Services, Metro Community, Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society and the Canadian Mental Health Association Kelowna. Services include:

  • Substantial reimbursement for design and construction of the current, purpose-built, temporary overnight sheltering site with an addition of personal belonging storage;
  • Reimbursement and ongoing cost for operating, coordinating and managing the overnight sheltering site, day-use site, personal belonging storage, outreach support services and access to personal hygiene services;
  • An awareness campaign to change negative perceptions around unhoused people.

“It’s a substantial achievement and I’m very pleased to see this grant awarded to the City of Kelowna,” said mayor Colin Basran.

“The COVID-19 pandemic, the opioid crisis, a challenging housing market, and lack of affordable housing have added complexity to the housing landscape in the last year and contributed to the dynamic nature of homelessness.”

The grant comes after emergency shelter operations had to be reduced due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Fewer clients could be housed in a place at a time due to public health measures. Economic conditions and rising housing costs meant more people are precariously housed than ever before. Although the city and its partners have developed more than 300 homes with supports since 2017, emergency shelters continue to operate at capacity and many continue to experience unsheltered homelessness.

“This funding will provide significant support and relief for people in Kelowna experiencing unsheltered homelessness, but it doesn’t mean work in this area is complete. The city will continue to collaborate with its provincial partners to bring an end to homelessness and ensure every person in Kelowna has a home,” city staff said in a statement.

READ MORE: An estimated 114 experiencing homelessness in Penticton


@paulatr12
paula.tran@kelownacapnews.com

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