Homeless camps a rising concern

Vernon council was told Monday that six homeless camps were recently found in the community.

Politicians at all levels are being urged to address the needs of the homeless or those at risk of finding themselves on the street.

Vernon council was told Monday that six homeless camps were recently found in the community.

“We do need more affordable and supportive housing,” said Annette Sharkey, with the Social Planning Council.

A major move forward is B.C. Housing purchased the former Journey Inn motel downtown. Thirty-eight units will be operated as affordable housing under contract by the John Howard Society.

Many of the tenants will be employed but the cost of housing is challenging for them. Others will be seniors who have been in transitional housing.

Beyond permanent housing, concerns revolve around temporary shelter space for the homeless.

“There are turn-aways quite often at the shelter,” said Sharkey.

“There isn’t enough room to bring everyone in.”

One of the most significant gaps, according to Sharkey, is a lack of a women’s shelter.

A business model has been developed for a women’s shelter, and particularly for those with addictions. However, a funding source has not been located.

The Social Planning Council, the City of Vernon and other agencies have a committee that tries to connect the homeless with services they need, including housing.

Information is also provided to occupants of homeless camps on how to keep their sites clean and avoid problems with the broader community.

“It’s quite unique and does not happen in every community,” said Sharkey of the city’s bylaw compliance department being proactive to assist the homeless.

The recent increase in homeless camps may be partially a result of the closure of the Green Valley Motel and its tenants not finding new residences.

 

Vernon Morning Star