Kelowna's Homelessness Strategy

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Social Development - Homelessness and beyond

Kelowna has gone through dramatic changes since 2018. The landscape around homelessness has intensified due to many factors, including the toxic drug supply crisis, the Covid-19 pandemic and housing unaffordability. We see people experiencing homelessness who never have before, and rapid growth in the number of people sheltering outside.

In the 2024 budget, City Council approved the expansion of the City’s Social Development department with a goal to increase our capacity to mobilize and actions solution focused approaches to complex social issues including homelessness.  While housing and homelessness dominate today's landscape, the City is conscious that there are many facets of social development, including: social inclusion, accessibility and poverty reduction, child care, youth and senior planning and more.

Expanding the Social Development department is in part a response to the community’s call for greater City investment in leading coordination, development, and implementation of a renewed community homeless response plan. In Q1 2024, the City will begin to build its internal structure, assembling the team and formalizing partnerships with sector partners. Throughout this building process, the City will continue to support and apply pressure to other systems responsible for providing an adequate number and range of health and housing supports and services that meet people where they are at and respond to diverse challenges.

Why is the City taking on this new role?

The City sees a clear need to strengthen its role in addressing homelessness in a more direct way. This decision follows a scheduled Journey Home Strategy implementation review carried out in early 2023. The review engaged local social-serving sector partners and a key finding was a request that the City enhance its role in implementation. 

When will the City begin the next phase of the homelessness strategy implementation?

The process to transition implementation responsibilities to the City is already underway and will continue through the end of 2023. The City’s new team will become established and operational in 2024.

What does this change mean for outdoor sheltering and homelessness in Kelowna?

The City’s new support and collaborative leadership role for the local social-serving sector will lead to a renewal of the community’s strategy to address homelessness and a new phase of implementation. We will work with sector partners to ensure our goals and targets match current conditions and challenges. The City sees a clear need to strengthen its role in addressing homelessness in a more direct way, and this change will do exactly that.

How much will this transition cost?

Greater investment will be needed to address homelessness in Kelowna moving forward. A City-supported model will ensure appropriate investment in addressing homelessness and create greater value for taxpayers from that investment.

History of the Journey Home Strategy 

The Journey Home Strategy was first introduced in 2018. Strategy development was community-led and included perspectives from social-serving sector partners, affected organizations, people who experienced homelessness, and many others.

The Strategy is made up of two parts: 

  • The Community Report provides an overview of the Strategy and how it was developed.
  • The Technical Report provides a deeper dive into Kelowna’s strengths and challenges.

These documents provided a roadmap for the first five-year implementation of the Strategy. The Journey Home Strategy Mid-Term Report, released in April 2022, provides an update on key milestones and future priorities. Kelowna has gone through dramatic changes since 2018, but the documents continue as the foundation of the community's strategy to address homelessness and will be central in its next implementation phase.