City of Kelowna to lead local homelessness response
The City is responding to the changing homelessness crisis in our community by establishing a new team to lead the renewal of the Journey Home Strategy. This decision follows a planned review of the first five-year implementation of the Journey Home Strategy. The review was carried out in early 2023 and involved significant engagement with social-serving sector partners. A key finding of the review was that the sector wanted to see the City take on a greater role in implementation to support community efforts.
“The landscape around homelessness has changed dramatically since 2018 when the Journey Home Strategy was introduced. We see people experiencing homelessness who never have before, and rapid growth in the number of people sheltering outside,” says Mayor Tom Dyas. “Despite the gains we have made in establishing more housing solutions, we see a clear need for the City to strengthen its commitment and show momentum as a leader.”
As part of this transition, the City will not be renewing its Memorandum of Understanding with the Central Okanagan Journey Home Society (COJHS), which expires on December 31, 2023. A transition of responsibilities will continue until the end of 2023, with the City’s new team becoming established and operational in 2024. The City is developing its internal structure, assembling the team and formalizing partnerships with sector partners. Additional details will be announced in fall as this work continues.
“Since implementation of the Strategy began in 2018, there have been more than 300 homes with supports built in Kelowna,” adds Dyas. “The Central Okanagan Journey Home Society has been central to that accomplishment and many others which will have lasting benefit in our community,” adds Dyas. “Homelessness is increasing and we must take a renewed approach.”
The City and its partners remain focused on improving conditions for people experiencing homelessness in Kelowna. We are currently working with BC Housing and other partners to expand shelter and supportive housing capacity and add much needed shelters and transitional housing in the lead up to winter. Over the coming months, the City will work collaboratively with its housing and social sector partners to reset the Journey Home Strategy so goals and targets are well matched to current conditions and challenges and we can remain responsive and solution focused.
For more information, visit kelowna.ca/journeyhomestrategy.