(Brennan Phillips - Western News)

(Brennan Phillips - Western News)

‘One Hundred More Homes Penticton’ voices support for audit of BC Housing programs

More intensive support needed for those with complex mental and physical health, substance use

The ‘100 More Homes Penticton’ is voicing its support for the city’s request for an audit on how well the existing supportive housing is helping people experiencing homelessness.

The response is from 100 More Homes Penticton, as a collective, and may not represent the views of individual 100 More Homes’ membership, said Naomi Woodland, coordinator of 100 More Homes Penticton.

100 More Homes works collaboratively with multiple stakeholders, community members and people with lived experience since 2016 to “to build a system of housing and supports to prevent and address homelessness in Penticton.”

Woodland says 100 More Homes is in support of Penticton city council’s anticipated approach on ensuring the community’s most vulnerable, and the community as a whole, have the supports and services available to be a safe and vibrant community for all by requesting a transparent, third-party evaluation of the housing services in our community. We are keen to identify that the homelessness serving sector has been doing outstanding work in this area for many years and despite that we continue to see a high level of homelessness amongst our city’s most vulnerable. This situation calls for change at the highest level.

Since 2016, over 350 people have secured housing and support through providers in the city that has changed their lives forever. Despite this number we still see over 100 people unhoused and over 140 people on the supportive housing registry.

Therefore, 100 More Homes welcomes the opportunity for additional and appropriate supports for the most vulnerable in our society. Providers across Penticton have had significant success in providing care, physical, emotional and mental, to vulnerable members of our communities.

Often these services could do so much more but are under utilized due to insufficient access to the mental health, substance use and physical health services many of the most vulnerable need.

Over time, cumulative brain injuries, trauma and experiences result in individuals who need an extremely high level of care in order to sustain housing options.

In the current unhoused population, around 30 per cent have such needs. An independent review of services available would help to define this number and also the supports needed to successfully support these people to full health.

The 100 More Homes recognizes that a safe and affordable home for all Penticton residents cannot be delivered by a single individual, organization or government. The complexity of housing affordability and homelessness requires collaboration between governments, community agencies, individuals with lived experience, and community leaders (including City Council) to ensure there are comprehensive and coordinated solutions.

100 More Homes calls on all relevant partners and stakeholders to come together to provide more intensive support for those with complex mental health, substance use and physical health needs. Action has, on the surface, been slow, and for the most part, has been left up to Herculean efforts by community partners, to attempt to solve, rather than a strategic and coordinated approach with all relevant partners and stakeholders. This has made it is exceptionally difficult for Penticton’s not-for-profit organizations to provide a high-level of support to our community’s most vulnerable. There have been public disputes within the community (e.g., between businesses, between city council and not-for-profits), rather than focusing our attention on those that can make a change and helping the community speak with a single, united voice.

There are Pentictonites living on the streets, or couch surfing, all of whom have experienced a unique, often traumatic, journey into homelessness. This is a fact.

While the relationship between the city and the housing sector has sometimes been strained, and it has been difficult to portray the amazing and hard work that occurs in the community, it is reassuring to see the city putting pressure on provincial bodies to provide the required supports that individuals have long been seeking in this area.

The likely impact of COVID-19 on evictions, precarious housing and mental health needs of the population will compound these existing issues putting greater stress on an already stretched system.

In addition, 100 More Homes would like to see a centralized intake and screening process that reflects the Built for Zero and Housing First model of best practice incorporating a By Name List. These tools will enable the housing sector to provide the care required to the people who need it in the most time responsive manner available.

Housing and Homelessness