December 20, 2016 (Penticton) – Volunteers are hitting the streets this week to find solid data on Penticton’s homeless population.

Homelessness in Penticton turns out to be a larger problem than organizers of 100 Homes Penticton thought when they started.

“When we first started this, we thought the number was 60, so it is double that number,” said Ian Gerbrandt of the United Way, one of the organizations joining in the 100 Homes project, which is part of a larger, Canada-wide 20,000 Homes.

Read more: Community leaders strive to build residences for homeless

Gerbrandt said they spoke to 203 people — and helped them register for supportive housing — during the survey, required as a first step in the process.  Of those, 128 reported themselves at homeless, with nearly half being homeless for more than a year.

“Most concerning for us was the health vulnerabilities we saw. As a whole, the people in Penticton were showing higher health vulnerabilities,” said Gerbrandt, noting that 87 per cent reported medical health problems, and 83 per cent reported having a substance use issue.

Penticton was the fourth community in B.C. to join the campaign, and the first in the province to complete the housing registry week, Nov. 7 to 11.

Besides United Way, the partnership includes the city, B.C. Housing, Lighthouse Penticton, Interior Health, Ooknakane Friendship Centre and many other Penticton groups.

The goal of the campaign is to provide housing and supports to 100 people by July 2018. Gerbrandt said there has been early success in the campaign.

“We’ve already matched 41 people with housing. A lot of that is due to the new Fairhaven housing,” said Gerbrandt.

See the full Penticton Western News story here:

Homelessness a larger problem than originally thought