Addressing homelessness

We’re committed to developing a safe and inclusive community where people from all walks of life can find their home.

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The City of Kelowna and community partners are creating a long-term strategy, called ‘Journey Home.’ The strategy will bring together services to address housing and homelessness. The vision is to have a clear place to go for support if someone has lost or is about to lose their home. The “no wrong door” approach means any agency can connect an individual with the services they need.

The strategy will be an action plan that focuses on:

  • Ensuring a safe and healthy community for all citizens;
  • Addressing homelessness; and when it occurs, ensuring it is rare, short-lived and non-reoccurring;
  • Developing appropriate housing;
  • Promoting collaboration and coordination of services and resources to support those who are vulnerable;
  • Developing multi-sector partnerships so that public investment can be targeted towards the goal of reducing homelessness.

The Journey Home Task Force is a committee appointed by City Council to support the development of the long-term strategy to address homelessness.

Proposed Systems Framework

Current community initiatives

More than 50 community partners are working to address issues around housing and homelessness. Below are a few examples of programs making a difference one person at a time

Transitional storage program at the Gospel Mission

A transitional storage program in partnership with the City of Kelowna, BC Housing and Gospel Mission.

In the first six months, 32 individuals who accessed the storage program have moved on into housing. An increase of 26 individuals began using the shelter system for the first time after accessing the storage program.

For people living without homes, being able to store their belongings can be transformational. It offers an opportunity to connect with services like appointments and meals, without fear of losing their belongings.

Meet Geoff Haney, a Leon Street Worker at the Gospel Mission.

BC Housing

BC Housing is leading work with local service providers to use a coordinated approach to assess individuals’ needs and to support them into housing. The organization has more than 3000 units in Kelowna.

The City has partnered with BC Housing on other projects by contributing land to BC Housing for projects like:

  • Cardington Apartments
  • Tutt Street Apartments
  • Willowbridge Apartments
  • New Gate Apartments
  • Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society (i spa-us ki-low-na Heart of Kelowna)
  • Pleasantvale
Police and Crisis Team

Interior Health and the Kelowna RCMP partnered to create the Police and Crisis Team (PACT). A dedicated psychiatric nurse and specially trained RCMP officer who together form the mental health and substance use crisis intervention team.

PACT responded to 160 calls between March and July, 2017. With PACT responding to these calls, it helps to divert visits to the Emergency Room (ER), and connection to services through personalized attention.

See Kelowna

SEE:kelowna is a collaborative project between Metro Community and the Kelowna Museums Society. Launched in August 2017, the project shares stories from community members whose lives have been affected by homelessness.

Visit seekelowna.com.

The Bridge Youth and Family Services

The Bridge Youth and Family Services is hosting a community conversation on Sept. 21 from 6pm to 9pm. Interested participants can reserve their ticket on their website. Bridge is also encouraging the completion of a survey to learn opinions on how our community can improve services available to youth who are experiencing problematic substance use.

City housing actions

The City encourages a variety of housing opportunities across Kelowna through partnerships, land contributions, policy, zoning, grants and incentives. 

  • Partnership housing with  BC Housing to identify property/building options – to address emerging needs in Kelowna, such as emergency housing and single-room occupancy buildings. The City has provided land to BC Housing for seven projects including Willowbridge Transitional Housing, Cardington and New Gate apartments.
  • Housing incentives  for purpose-built rental housing through grants and tax relief - the City recently increased the funding available for the next two years, as well as weighting the incentive more heavily towards family-friendly housing. Since 2001, more than $2.5 million has been directed to the Housing Opportunities Fund. From the fund, more than $300,000 in annual grants are provided to developers of purpose-built rental housing and land acquisition for affordable housing.
  • Ensuring a reasonable housing supply is available - the City continually monitors and reports development trends in our community and considers the availability of appropriate zoned land for the development of various forms of housing as acknowledged in the Official Community Plan. In 2016, 1,048 units of purpose-built rental housing were completed or underway  and a similar number are in development for 2017.
  • Council recently endorsed the 2017 theme area for the Healthy City Strategy, ‘Healthy Housing’ - this is a joint initiative with Interior Health focused on improving health outcomes through improved housing policies and practices.

For more information about Housing in Kelowna , also visit Housing Strategy .