100 More Homes Penticton responds to Council’s anticipated call for a third party evaluation of housing needs in Penticton.

100 More Homes is a collaborative group of community partners, service delivery organizations, governments, and crown organizations. This letter is from 100 More Homes, as a collective, and may not represent the views of individual 100 More Homes’ membership.

January 29th 2021 – 100 More Homes has been working collaboratively with multiple stakeholders, community members and people with Lived Experience since 2016 to “to build a system of housing and supports to prevent and address homelessness in Penticton”. 100 More Homes, therefore, is in support of Penticton City Council’s anticipated approach on ensuring the community’s most vulnerable, and the community as a whole, have the supports and services available to be a safe and vibrant community for all by requesting a transparent, third-party evaluation of the housing services in our community. We are keen to identify that the homelessness serving sector has been doing outstanding work in this area for many years and despite that we continue to see a high level of homelessness and need amongst our cities most vulnerable. This situation calls for change at the highest level.

Since 2016 over 350 people have secured housing and support through providers in the City that has changed their lives forever. Despite this number we still see over 100 people unhoused and over 140 people on the supportive housing registry. Therefore 100 More Homes welcomes the opportunity for additional and appropriate supports for the most vulnerable in our society. Providers across Penticton have had significant success in providing care, physical, emotional and mental, to vulnerable members of our communities. Often these services could do so much more but are under utilised due to insufficient access to the mental health, substance use and physical health services many of the most vulnerable need. Over time cumulative brain injuries, trauma and experiences result in individuals who need an extremely high level of care in order to sustain housing options. In the current unhoused population around 30% have such needs. An independent review of services available would help to define this number and also the supports needed to successfully support these people to full health.

100 More Homes recognizes that a safe and affordable home for all Penticton residents cannot be delivered by a single individual, organization or government. The complexity of housing affordability and homelessness requires collaboration between governments, community agencies, individuals with lived experience, and community leaders (including City Council) to ensure there are comprehensive and coordinated solutions in the community.

100 More Homes calls on all relevant partners and stakeholders to come together to provide more intensive support for those with complex mental health, substance use and physical health needs. Action has, on the surface, been slow, and for the most part, has been left up to Herculean efforts by community partners, to attempt to solve, rather than a strategic and coordinated approach with all relevant partners and stakeholders. This has made it is exceptionally difficult for Penticton’s not-for-profit organizations to provide a high-level of support to our community’s most vulnerable. There have been public disputes within the community (e.g., between businesses, between City Council and not-for-profits), rather than focusing our attention on those that can make a change and helping the community come together to speak with a single, united voice.

There are Pentictonites living on the streets, living without a home, or couch surfing, all of whom have experienced a unique, often traumatic, journey into homelessness. This is a fact. So 100 More Homes will fully support, to the extent it is allowed, the transparent, and third-party evaluation of existing services, with the hope that this will lead to significant provincial investments in the areas of integrated substance use addictions, mental illness, and physical health supports, and ensure that all residents of Penticton have the care they need.

While the relationship between the City and the housing sector has sometimes been strained, and it has been difficult to portray the amazing and hard work that occurs in the community, it is reassuring to see the City putting pressure on Provincial bodies to provide the required supports that individuals have long been seeking in this area. The likely impact of COVID-19 on evictions, precarious housing and mental health needs of the population will compound these existing issues putting greater stress on an already stretched system.

In addition, 100 More Homes would like to see a centralized intake and screening process that reflects the Built for Zero and Housing First model of best practice incorporating a By Name List. These tools will enable the housing sector to provide the care required to the people who need it in the most time responsive manner available.

100 More Homes is committed to providing education and leadership in the community about evidence-based solutions that will help ensure every Pentictonite has a safe and affordable home to live.

Related stories:

Castanet (photo credit above): Support for Housing Probe

Penticton Western News: Kelowna, Victoria mayors call on B.C. to create housing pilot for homeless with complex needs

Penticton Western News: Penticton mayor and MLA concerned about new homeless housing

About 100 More Homes Penticton:

100 Homes Penticton is a committee of over 25 community leaders who have been working together since 2016 to provide housing and supports to vulnerable people in Penticton. The initiative is part of a larger, national campaign called Built for Zero Canada (previously 20,000 Homes) which is headed by the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness. This campaign is based on the Housing First approach which is a preventative and recovery-oriented approach to ending homelessness that centers on moving people experiencing homelessness into housing and then providing additional supports and services as needed.

Through the collaborative approach that 100 More Homes uses over 350 people have been successfully housed long-term in Penticton and over 150 additional housing units have been built to support the homeless population.

For more information go to https://unitedwaysibc.com/how-we-help/poverty/100-homes/

 

MEDIA Contact:

Naomi Woodland, Coordinator of 100 More Homes Penticton

naomi@unitedwaysibc.com

Tanya Behardien, Chair of 100 More Homes Penticton

Tanya.Behardien@OneSkyCommunity.com