Shelters are at full capacity in Kelowna and over 300 people are on a waitlist for supportive housing, says Central Okanagan Journey Home Society.
“We know that our shelters are full and turn people away regularly. That is about 200 shelter spaces full, plus those still living outside,” executive director Gaelene Askeland said.
There are at least three more new supportive housing buildings underway that will house about 150 people, but Askeland says that’s not enough.
“More needs to be done.”
Askeland says she expects more will be on the way in upcoming years.
“The Journey Home Strategy set the need at 300 units needed, and BC Housing will have met that by the end of next year,” Askeland said.
She said after Kelowna’s branch of Inn from the Cold’s shelter closed in January it was a struggle to find housing for the people who resided in the facility.
“There was a concerted effort at the time to move as many of those folks into Heath House, a supportive-housing building on the highway by McCurdy, as well as into the other shelters,” Askeland said.
She says a strategy is in place to improve access to diversion and prevention programs to help people stay housed and stresses there are all kinds of ways a person can become homeless, it’s not only because of substance addictions.
“We hear from people all the time who are on disability and just can’t afford to pay market rates, those who are evicted from their homes, or their leases go way up from one year to another and they simply can’t afford it,” Askeland said.
The next Point-in-Time count to assess the homeless population won’t be done until next spring.