Journey Home

Journey Home is the strategy to address homelessness in our community with a focus on ensuring everyone has a place to call home. The long-term goal is to ensure a coordinated and easy-to-access system of care for those in Kelowna who have lost, or are at risk of losing their home.

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Current Events and Ways to Get Involved

Take the Journey Home survey:
We want to hear from you about how important it is to address homelessness and what you consider to be promising solutions. We also want to understand your views on homelessness initiatives underway, and their impact.

Take the Survey

The survey will close March 5, 2018 to provide enough time for analysis to finalize the plan for June.  

Journey Home Design Labs:
Findings from the Journey Home Summits in late January helped to determine areas and topics that needed to be further explored. Over 20 design labs will be held in late February and early March to allow for a deeper look at some of the complex issues surrounding homelessness and strategize the best ways to approach them. 

Attend a Design Lab

Design Labs open for public participation:

  • Feb 19: Ending Homelessness & Reconciliation
  • Feb 19: Early Identification & Prevention Strategies
  • Feb 20: Integrating Intimate Partner Violence Responses in the Plan
  • Feb 21: Linking Poverty Reduction & Homelessness Initiatives
  • Feb 22: Housing First & Supportive Housing for Chronic & Episodic Homelessness
  • Feb 23: Coordinated Access & Assessment
  • Feb 23: Red Zone Review
  • Mar 6: Developing Mental Health & Addictions Supports for People Experiencing Homelessness
  • Mar 7: Research Agenda to Support the Plan
  • Mar 7: Public Education & Understanding
  • Mar 8: Affordable (rent-geared-to-income) Housing Development
  • Mar 8: Minority Populations
  • Mar 9: Technology-Based Solutions
  • Mar 9: Engaging the Faith Community

An additional nine design labs will be held by with individuals or groups with specific areas of expertise. 
For questions about the Design Labs, email journeyhome@kelowna.ca.

The Journey Home Strategy

The strategy will be an action plan that focuses on:

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

Who's Involved

Journey Home Task Force

The Journey Home Task Force is a group of community members appointed by Kelowna City Council who are working to move the Journey Home strategy to reality. The Task Force’s goal is to lead the development of the long-term Journey Home strategy to ensure people experiencing homelessness in Kelowna have a clear path to the support they need, when they need it.

The Task Force will be supported by Dr. Alina Turner and Turner Strategies. Dr. Turner led the implementation of Canada’s first Homelessness Management Information System and has worked with a number of cities across Canada including Victoria, Edmonton, Calgary and Yellowknife on their plans to end homelessness. Turner Strategies has also partnered with the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness and A Way Home Canada to prepare Kelowna’s Journey Home plan.

The Journey Home Task Force meetings commenced with an orientation in late September 2017.  The Task Force will continue to meet on a monthly basis through to the completion of the Strategy in 2018.

 

A Way Home-Kelowna: Addressing youth homelessness

A Way Home Kelowna (AWH-Kelowna), is guided by a steering committee with membership from the Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs, Canadian Mental Health Association - Kelowna, The Bridge Youth & Family Services, United Way, City of Kelowna, the Ministry of Children and Family Development, and the Central Okanagan Foundation. 

Focused on identifying, developing, and implementing strategies to prevent and end youth homelessness in our community, AWH-Kelowna is committed to ensuring that the needs of youth are prioritized and form an essential part of the Journey Home strategy. The strategy will be integrated and embedded into Journey Home, ensuring that the needs of youth people are prioritized and that the unique responses required to address the needs are front and centre.

The project has four objectives:

  • Develop, expand, and strengthen strategic cross-sector partnerships to advance coordinated, systems-level interventions for youth experiencing, or at-risk of, homelessness;
  • Produce a community strategy and implementation plan to prevent and end youth homelessness;
  • Test, adapt, document, and evaluate promising practices in strategic collaboration and community planning to address youth homelessness;
  • Implement innovative models of youth engagement, empowering young people with lived experience of homelessness to be partners in transforming coordinated responses to youth homelessness.
Lived Experience Circle

Having an advisory group of people who have experienced homelessness is crucial to ensure a broad scope of issues, barriers and potential solutions are identified. Those who are intimately familiar with homelessness, whether through their own experience or in supporting a loved one, hold valuable perspectives about what will realistically work in our local community to reduce homelessness.

The Lived Experience Circle will play a key role by helping to inform and guide the work of the Journey Home Task Force. The members will come together regularly and will be asked to provide insight on the strengths and gaps in the current homeless-serving system.

If you are interested in sharing your expertise through the Lived Experience Circle, please email Journey Home.
 

City of Kelowna

While the City has taken a leadership role in the development of the Journey Home Strategy, an inclusive community-driven process is essential  to ensure a collective commitment to implement the long-term plan.

The City of Kelowna’s role is to:

  • support the work of the Journey Home Task Force in developing a long-term community plan to address homelessness
  • partner with various levels of government and services
  • develop strong housing policies and incentives that support rental units and density
  • balance the needs of all residents

Hiring a Social Development Manager in 2016 was one of the first steps in a process to bring together partners within the community to help address the growing issue of homelessness that is occuring across the country. While no one individual or agency is able to solve these complex social issues on their own, this dedicated City presence will contribute to the joint efforts of government, community groups, businesses and social agencies to address our community’s issues and develop a coordinated, strategic approach.

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 seven 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)

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.

Canadian Mental Health Association

The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) currently has 21 people in supported housing through their Housing First program. The organization also runs Willowbridge transitional housing (40 beds), and other housing assistance programs.

"..once they're housed then they have a worker who can find them. They've got a place to store their stuff. We can start helping organize. We can connect them to brain injury services. We can connect them to those things that help them..." Keni Milne, Housing First Team Lead.

The City provided CMHA a $6,500 community social development grant in 2017. This grant provided partial funding for operations.

Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society

The Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society offers more than 30 culturally appropriate programs that support the community from preventing homelessness through to assisting people into housing.

The organization has services and programs for all ages as well as operates housing projects.

Bylaw Enforcement and RCMP partnership

Kelowna has a lot of “feet on the street,” with City of Kelowna Bylaw Enforcement and RCMP working with Park Ambassadors, Downtown Patrol teams, private security and Transit Security to keep streets and parks clean and safe.

Bylaw Enforcement and RCMP focus on making connections with people living without homes. They encourage and support them to access services while balancing the need to ensure that bylaws are followed to help keep the community safe for everyone.

Creating the Journey Home Strategy

The process for developing the Journey Home strategy is designed to be community-driven and inclusive:

Journey Home Workplan

January - March: Community Engagement

Journey Home Summits (Jan 19 and 23, 2018)

The Journey Home Community Summits brought together members of the homeless-serving sector to engage in strategic discussions to inform the Journey Home plan. It’s important to bring together those who are actively involved in the homeless-serving sector to have a better understanding of the current services in place, as well as local challenges, barriers and solutions as the plan is developed.  

Friday, January 19 - Youth Homelessness Summit:  The morning session focused on best practices in reducing youth homelessness and the afternoon included a training session. National experts from the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness (COH) attended including Dr. Stephen Gaetz, director of COH.

Tuesday, January 23 - Journey Home Community Summit: The Community Summit gathered service providers, funders, government agencies, private sector and those with lived experience to develop key considerations for the Journey Home strategy.

Public Survey (Feb 7 - Mar 5, 2018)  

We want to hear from you about how important it is to address homelessness and what you consider to be promising solutions. We also want to understand your views on homelessness initiatives underway, and their impact.
Anyone can take the online survey to contribute perspectives and opinions toward the development of the long-term Journey Home Strategy.  The survey will close March 5, 2018 to provide enough time for analysis to finalize the plan for June.  

Design Labs (February & March)

A series of design labs over the course of two weeks will allow for a deeper dive into complex issues surrounding homelessness in Kelowna. Findings from the Journey Home Summits in late January helped to determine which areas and topics needed to be further explored in the Design Labs.

Attend a Design Lab

Design Labs open for public participation:

  • Feb 19: Early Identification & Prevention Strategies
  • Feb 20: Integrating Intimate Partner Violence Responses in the Plan
  • Feb 21: Linking Poverty Reduction & Homelessness Initiatives
  • Feb 22: Housing First & Supportive Housing for Chronic & Episodic Homelessness
  • Feb 23: Coordinated Access & Assessment
  • Feb 23: Red Zone Review
  • Mar 6: Developing Mental Health & Addictions Supports for People Experiencing Homelessness
  • Mar 7: Research Agenda to Support the Plan
  • Mar 7: Public Education & Understanding
  • Mar 8: Affordable (rent-geared-to-income) Housing Development
  • Mar 8: Minority Populations
  • Mar 9: Technology-Based Solutions
  • Mar 9: Engaging the Faith Community

An additional nine design labs will be held by with individuals or groups with specific areas of expertise. 
Any questions about the Design Labs should be sent to journeyhome@kelowna.ca

April: Plan Draft and Community Feedback

A draft of the Journey Home plan will come back to the community to ensure key elements from the summits and public engagement are represented in the plan.

Frequently Asked Questions
What's the cause of homelessness in Kelowna?

There is no singular cause of homelessness in any community. Much like every person is unique, every experience that leads a person into homelessness is unique.

However, there are socio-economic trends that can be identified. Understanding the root causes of poverty and homelessness in our city is important to find viable solutions.

Trends that have historically affected homelessness in Kelowna include peaks in population growth and housing supply, higher migration rates into Kelowna from other areas, tourism (less rentals for locals), aging populations and growing income divides.  

An end to homelessness - is it achievable?

An end to homelessness does not mean we will never have someone who needs emergency shelter or loses housing: that would not be realistic.

Our goal is to prevent homelessness; and when it occurs, ensuring it is rare, short-lived and non-reoccurring. Rather than declaring an end to homelessness, many communities strive to achieve Functional Zero. This can be achieved when housing, beds and services are available for everyone who needs it. The goal is permanent housing and emergency shelters are only for temporary needs.   

There may always be families and individuals that will need emergency, transitional or supportive shelter. What we want is to have a response system that can act quickly to move people from homelessness to being properly supported.

How many people are experiencing homelessness in Kelowna?

Point in Time Count
A Point in Time (PIT) count is a snapshot of those experiencing homelessness in our community. The data is important to identify trends and key issues related to homelessness. Policy makers, service providers and funders use the data to inform planning for housing related programs and services. The last point in time count was completed in 2016 with a new count expected to be completed in 2018.

While the Point in Time count in an important tool, it is just a snapshot of the homelessness situation at one particular time. To develop a long-term strategy and effectively plan for the future, a broader look at homelessness including those who are at risk of losing their home, needs to be considered.

Annual Homelessness Trends
To understand the extent of homelessness in our community, the diverse dynamics involved in homelessness need to be addressed. At any given time, the number of people experiencing homelessness in our community can ebb and flow, but there are ways we can determine the level of supports needed. We need to focus on the numbers of people experiencing homelessness throughout the year, rather than only at a given point-in-time.

Understanding types of homelessness

 

 

 

 

 

Extreme Core Housing Need: This number includes those in our community who may be at risk to lose their home as they are likely spending more than 50% of their household income on rental fees or housing, who earn less than $20,000/year. This data comes from the 2016 Census, Statistics Canada.
Transitionally Homeless: those who may experience homelessness short-term, generally less than a month
Episodically Homeless: those who move in and out of homelessness, with a higher level of needs
Chronically Homeless: those in our community who have been on the streets for a long time, potentially years, with very high levels of need.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Extreme Core Housing Need: This number includes those in our community who may be at risk to lose their home as they are likely spending more than 50% of their household income on rental fees or housing costs.
Transitionally Homeless: those who may experience homelessness short-term, generally less than a month.
Episodically Homeless: those who move in and out of homelessness.
Chronically Homeless: those in our community who have been on the streets for a long time, potentially years.

Point in Time Count
A Point in Time (PIT) count is a snapshot of those experiencing homelessness in our community. The data is important to identify trends and key issues related to homelessness. Policy makers, service providers and funders use the data to inform planning for housing related programs and services. The last Point in Time Count was completed in 2016 with a new count expected to be completed in 2018.

While the Point in Time count in an important tool, it is just a snapshot of the homelessness situation at one particular time. While it may capture an accurate look at those who are chronic or episodically homeless, it will likely only capture a percentage of those who are transitionally homeless. To develop a long-term strategy and effectively plan for the future, a broader look at homelessness including those who are at risk of losing their home, needs to be considered.

What are some of the solutions working in other cities?

To develop a plan that will be successful at a local level, it is important to explore best practices that have been identified in other communities. Two emerging best practices will be at the core of Kelowna's Journey Home plan:  

Housing First is the approach of providing housing for individuals in need without barriers due to circumstances, mental health needs or addictions. It centers on moving people who are experiencing homelessness into housing as a first priority, and then providing wraparound supports as needed. The idea behind Housing First is that people are better able to improve their well-being and address individual needs such as income or sobriety if they are first housed.

Systems planning or a system of care is the formal approach of coordinating service delivery at a community-wide level. The goal of systems planning is to:

  • have a clear understanding of who is becoming homeless and why
  • based on that clear understanding, identify their needs and design coordinated responses
  • use a “no wrong door” approach (no matter where a person turns for suppport, any agency can connect an individual with the services they need)
  • promote system unity by aligning services to avoid duplication, improve information sharing and increase efficiency
  • develop early intervention strategies
  • ensure a community commitment with partnerships to design policies, strategies, and investments
  • enhance housing stability though partnerships 
  • provide easy access to crisis intervention and support
What's being done to address affordable housing needs in Kelowna?

Housing is a community-wide issue that is being addressed on multiple levels 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 2017 and 2018, 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 $420,000 in annual grants are provided to developers of purpose-built rental 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, 489 units of purpose-built rental housing were issued building permits and in 2017, 1,083 units were issued building permits.
  • Council 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.

Find more information using the following links:  Housing in Kelowna , affordable housing and BC Housing.

How can I get involved?

Volunteer.  With over 50 community partners are working to address issues around housing and homelessness, volunteers can truly make a difference in creating a healthy and caring community.

Get involved. Engaging with the community is a vital part of the Journey Home Plan development process. Explore some of the ways you can provide input to the plan in the community engagement section above, or sign up for the latest Journey Home updates to stay informed.  

Visit the Journey Home Get Involved page to ask questions that may not be listed here.

Ask your question