Man sleeps on a park bench next to Christ Church Cathedral in Victoria, October 2017. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

Homeless strategies seek upgrade

Social Pallning Council of North Okanagan applying for large grant with City of Vernon support

An organization is hoping a provincial grant will help update local attainable housing and homelessness strategies.

The Social Planning Council has received the City of Vernon’s support in applying for a $50,000 grant, and wants to list the city as a project partner on the application.

“This project would be beneficial to both organizations by providing valuable input and direction regarding best practices for addressing homelessness and increasing the affordable housing stock,” said Annette Sharkey, SPC executive director.

Sharkey explained that, in 2008, two strategies were launched in tandem by the SPC and city. The Partners In Action committee, which oversees the implementation of the homelessness strategy, felt it was time to update the strategy.

“We are really proud of the work on both strategies,” said Sharkey.

“But we are in a changing landscape. I have optimism there are opportunities coming up to make sure our community is doing everything it can.”

The SPC would be responsible for hiring a consultant, coordinating the project and submitting interim and final report.

The city’s contribution would in-kind staffing hours to assist with the project, which would be a review of, and evaluating actions and results, of the strategies launched nine years ago.

The project will also include research into best practices in regards to housing first, collaboration models, zoning, regulations, permit procedures and other municipal policies and community programs that address homelessness and increase affordable housing stock.

“I think it’s high time we did this,” said Vernon Coun. Catherine Lord.

Said Coun. Dalvir Nahal: “I think this is the way the province wants to move forward. I think a lot of people don’t recognize the work being done behind the scenes.”

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