The leaders in solving homelessness in Kelowna have received a sizeable stipend for funding. (Don Erhardt)

UBC Okanagan awarded grant for homelessness research

Director expects funding to surpass $1M by year’s end

Four prominent institutions and programs in the Okanagan have received a stipend for taking a multidisciplinary approach to solving homelessness.

UBC Okanagan, Journey Home, Interior Health and Okanagan College have received $218,000 to research different ways to improve services for homeless people.

The funding, provided by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, UBC and the Vancouver Foundation, will provide researchers an opportunity to focus on three priorities according to a UBC press release.

The first is improvements in technology, such as database management improvements, according to John Graham, director of UBCO School of Social Work.

READ MORE: Homeless West Kelowna man found dead in tent remembered well

“These are important in helping to make homelessness strategies more responsive, efficient, and at the same time, increasing the number of people who are able to be off the street,” he said.

The second aspect will focus on homeless, business and services relations and the third will regard service delivery improvements.

“We need better delivery of the specific service needs of those who have experienced traumatic brain injury, versus a major mental disorder, a substance misuse, generalized trauma, each of which often frequently co-occurs,” Graham said.

In 2018, the City of Kelowna adopted Journey Home—a five-year plan to address homelessness in the Central Okanagan.

READ MORE: West Kelowna homeless population is 61 per cent First Nation

Journey Home’s goal is to ensure a co-ordinated and easy-to-access system of care for those in the region who have lost, or are at risk of losing, their home.

“We now have a team in place that will significantly contribute to service improvements and reductions in homelessness,” Graham said.

The research team expects more funding opportunities to come from this initiative.

“We should be able to leverage current funds to quickly get over the $1 million mark within a year,” Graham said. “I really want to see the university’s skills leveraged to help improve the homelessness response roll out across the region.”

READ MORE: Kelowna woman to climb Mount Kilimanjaro for homeless youth



David Venn
Reporter, Kelowna Capital News
Email me at david.venn@kelownacapnews.com
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