Journey Home Homelessness Strategy endorsed by Council
Kelowna City Council approved the Journey Home Strategy this afternoon. The five-year, $47M strategy to address homelessness in Kelowna includes an action plan focused on building a system of care that is projected to support more than 2,100 individuals into housing or support programs by 2024. The main priorities include the addition of 300 new long-term supportive housing units, 500 new support program spaces, the creation of a backbone organization to lead the strategy implementation, and a funding strategy designed to tap into several different financial sources.
“The timing is right to move this strategy into action,” says Martin Bell, Journey Home co-chair. “We know what we need and we are well positioned with a concrete strategy in hand that aligns with the focus and priorities of senior government. Most importantly, we have community support and a sense of urgency to move this plan into action.”
The Journey Home Strategy sets its focus on supporting those who have been experiencing homelessness the longest in our community. It is also unique in that it embeds a youth strategy which will be supported by A Way Home Kelowna, a local branch of A Way Home, the National Coalition to End Youth Homelessness. It’s a measurable plan with 38 key actions with set milestone and targets as well as identified key contributors.
“We’ve learned in creating this strategy that it’s as much about bringing the community together as it is creating a guiding document,” says Dr. Kyleen Myrah, Journey Home co-chair. “The response we’ve received from the community has been truly inspiring, from those who work closest to homelessness, to the engagement of those who’ve never really been a part of conversation such as the technology and innovation sector. Most importantly are the voices of those who have, or are, experiencing homelessness that resonate throughout the action plan. The expertise they’ve provided has been incredibly valuable and we will continue to seek their guidance as we transition into the next stage.”
Now that the strategy has been approved, the work will begin to create an organization, called a backbone organization, to lead and roll out the strategy. A Journey Home transition team has already been established with almost all of the 23 members of the Journey Home Task Force continuing on to oversee the shift to implement the homelessness strategy to the backbone organization. As well, a portion of the $2.7M funding to support the backbone over the next five years has already been raised.
“The backbone organization, the group that will be laser-focused on carrying out this strategy, will have dedicated office space for the first two years with Accelerate Okanagan and we are close to securing all funding required for the first two years of their operation as well,” says Bell.
The Strategy includes a Community Report, designed to provide an overview of how the Strategy was developed as well as a Technical Report which lays out Kelowna’s unique challenges and strengths which have informed the roadmap to implement the plan. The full strategy is available on the Journey Home webpage.