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People accessing help in West Kelowna just want food and warmth: Survey

Approximately 77 per cent of respondents said they accessed services for shelter, food, and clothing

A survey that looked at the current state of homelessness and housing instability on the Westside has found that a majority of respondents accessed support services for the basic needs of life.

Henluk Consulting Ltd. conducted the survey from Oct. 19 to Nov. 18, 2022, with the participation of service agencies with the City of West Kelowna and Westbank First Nation (WFN), and presented to city council at its Jan. 10 regular meeting.

Of the 279 people surveyed through the Westside Unique Indentifier Count, 77 per cent said they needed support to access shelter, food, and clothing.

It also found that 56 per cent considered their housing situation to be unstable, citing not making enough money and being unable to afford rent or mortgage payments as some of the reasons.

The survey gathered information from people who are homeless, living on the streets, living in emergency shelters, and those at risk of homelessness.

Information was collected at several community organizations including Turning Points, CMHA Kelowna, and Central Okanagan Food Bank.

The goal of the survey was not just to identify the scope of homelessness and housing instability on the Westside, but also to better understand the support services potentially required to address the issues.

Asked if their community provided sufficient social services, 29 per cent of respondents said yes, 43 per cent said no, and 28 per cent said they were not sure.

The report concludes that the project confirms housing insecurity on the Westside.

“The data collected supports previous and ongoing national, provincial, and regional data findings that demonstrate a rising need for access to safe and stable housing within Canada, BC, and the Okanagan.”

The report also suggests that the city and WFN may use the project to support future housing strategies and improve local organizational planning and program development that addresses housing and homelessness.

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Gary Barnes

About the Author: Gary Barnes

Journalist and broadcaster for three decades.
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