Fewer homeless camps around town

Members of the Partners in Action committee conducted a census of homeless camps Monday and three were located.

There are still some Vernon residents living out on the street or off the beaten track.

Members of the Partners in Action committee conducted a census of homeless camps Monday and three were located.

“It’s pretty much on par with the last few years,” said Annette Sharkey, Partners in Action co-ordinator.

“We didn’t find people at all of them but there were signs of activity.”

There were also three camps in November but five in June 2014.

However, the current situation is dramatically fewer than 30 in June 2009.

The goal of Partners in Action, which includes social agencies and bylaw compliance officers, is to ensure residents living on the street can access a variety of services.

“At one site, the outreach workers are already making contact and making them aware of services available,” said Sharkey.

The focus isn’t to force camp occupants to pack up although that may occur.

“If it’s a small camp that’s quiet and clean, it may fall under the radar but if it becomes a public nuisance, bylaw compliance officers may act,” said Sharkey.

While pleased with the focus of Partners in Action, Sharkey admits there are some challenges, particularly when it comes to individuals with mental health issues.

“We’ve done a great job of connecting with our homeless population but we haven’t solved the homeless issue,” she said.

“We’re blocked at finding permanent housing with supports in place. That requires funding from senior government.”