Council approves terms of homelessness committee

A new framework based on helping the city's homeless to get off the streets will be developed over the next year.

At Monday's meeting, council approved a terms of reference related to what's being called the Journey Home task force, which would include about a dozen community members who would develop Kelowna-specific policies and guidelines.

The guidelines for the policy will be based off a broader Journey Home strategy that focuses on having support services work collaboratively as much as possible, as well as making sure people get off the street and into affordable housing as quickly as possible.

Social Development Manager Sue Wheeler says cities in Canada are working together on this.

"When a person has a roof over their head, and they feel safe and secure, it changes everything for them. And they can then have hope and dignity, and move forward in their lives," she said.

"Because of that, and the work that has been done across Canada and shared through our learning community, an approach called the Homeless Serving Systems Planning approach has a set of principles we'll be following.")

She says there's lots of room for different agencies that help people in different ways have room to be more efficient.

"The services that support people have been developed over a long period of time, and have been really responsive to needs - but not necessarily has their been a development of a structure that coordinates all of those services. And I think that's been experienced all across Canada," she said.

Meanwhile, consulting firm CEO Martin Bell and Okanagan College professor Dr. Kyleen Myrah have been named as co-chairs of the new task force.

The force's will develop specific policies and logistics into a report that will go in front of council a year from now.

Wheeler says the over-arching goal of all of this is to have local resources be less independent.

"It's very complex, this isn't unique to Kelowna, it's a situation all communities find themselves in," she said.

"Shifting away from the program-by-program response to more of a systems approach, so that everyone that's a part of that system understands how they inter-relate with the other parts - through this way, we can actually begin to determine what the local priorities and needs are."

The remaining task force members will be chosen later this summer.