Journey Home engagement results and next steps

April 9, 2018

The Journey Home Task Force provided an update to Kelowna City Council today including results from the public consultation portion of the Journey Home strategy which saw over 1,697 points of contact with community members.

“Engagement is a crucial piece in the development of our strategy to address homelessness and the level of interest and passion from the community over the last few months has been inspiring,” says Martin Bell, Journey Home Task Force co-chair. “Homelessness is a complex issue that cannot be solved by any one group. The engagement process has brought together many different sectors, that are essential in finding tangible and collaborative solutions to this issue.”

The Youth Homelessness Summit and the Community Summit in January launched the consultation phase of the strategy development with 178 participants from organizations that provide services to those experiencing homelessness. Issues identified in the summits were explored further by over 636 participants in 23 two-hour Design Labs with a focus on creating made-in Kelowna solutions. The Design Labs covered topics like mental health, addictions, technology, affordable housing, public education and understanding.

A public survey also ran from February 7 to March 18, and was open to anyone who wanted to weigh in on the issue of homelessness in Kelowna. Over 500 responses were received and findings included:

  • 79% of respondents felt that solving the issue of homelessness in Kelowna is very important, an additional 17% believe it to be somewhat important
  • 52%, were satisfied with the current efforts to address homelessness, 32% indicated that they were dissatisfied
  • 85% of respondents indicated that they believe homelessness is on the rise in Kelowna; another 10% indicated that they believe it has stayed the same
  • In terms of solutions, there was strong belief that measures such as Housing First and Long Term Supportive Housing could improve the situation

From the outset of the project, it was also identified that in order to succeed, the plan required significant input from those in the community who are experiencing or have experienced homelessness. A Lived Experience Circle has been set up and has had seven meetings with more than 107 unique voices being heard.

“The stories and insights that we’ve heard from those closest to the issue are absolutely crucial in creating this strategy,” says Dr. Kyleen Myrah, Journey Home Task Force co-chair. “This is critical to truly understand the kind of barriers they’re facing, as well as what is currently working in the community, and what else could be done. We are incredibly thankful to all who have attended and shared their knowledge so far.”  

Journey Home Strategy development will continue in the coming months, beginning with a What We Heard: Strategic Directions & Input session on April 10th where participants from the Journey Home Summits and Design Labs will have the opportunity to comment on the direction of the strategy. The process will be open for input from anyone unable to attend as the presentation will be video recorded and available for viewing at kelowna.ca/journeyhome from April 11-18 along with a tool to provide feedback.

“We’re grateful to all those that spent time answering the public survey, attending the Community Summits and Design Labs, and to the Youth and Lived Experience Circle that have contributed valuable insight,” says Dr. Myrah.

“I’ve had the opportunity to work with a number of communities across Canada and the level of interest and engagement that we’ve witnessed in Kelowna so far is unprecedented for a city this size,” says Dr. Alina Turner of Turner Strategies who is working with the Task Force to develop Kelowna’s strategy. “There’s a passionate energy in the community right now which tells us that the timing is right to move this into action.”

A draft of the Journey Home plan is set to be presented to Kelowna City Council in June 2018. Visit the Journey Home webpage for more information about current initiatives, the Journey Home Task Force and ways the public can get involved.