Refreshed Journey Home Strategy charts course to functional zero

The Central Okanagan Journey Home Society is aiming for functional zero chronic homelessness by December 31, 2025. The refreshed Strategy was developed with community participation and its goals will only be met through cooperation, collective effort and collaboration.

“We’ve set ambitious but realistic targets to reach functional zero by the end of 2025,” said Journey Home Executive Director, Stephanie Gauthier. “The landscape of poverty and homelessness has changed since the Journey Home Strategy was released in 2018 and this report is an opportunity to recalibrate and refocus our efforts to address homelessness.”

The Journey Home Strategy Mid-Term Report was received by Kelowna City Council yesterday afternoon. It charts Journey Home’s future through to the end of 2025, with the development of a modelling tool to better predict supportive housing demand and inform advocacy efforts. Supportive housing provides stable homes for people experiencing or at-risk of homelessness. People living in supportive housing have access to onsite health, wellness and employment services to help stabilize their lives.

Journey Home has developed a model to project the level of demand for housing with supports. It evolves as conditions change and new data becomes available, illustrating the level of need in our community and enhancing advocacy for further investments in Kelowna from Federal and Provincial levels of government.

While Journey Home continues to focus on the future, it has overseen many milestones worth celebrating, including:

  • Establishment of Journey Home as the homeless-serving sector backbone organization in Kelowna
  • Formation of the Lived Experience Circle on Homelessness (LECoH)
  • Successful data projects that are paving the way for the creation of a Homeless Management Information System (HMIS)
  • 318 new units of supportive housing introduced in Kelowna since 2018, in partnership with BC Housing and funded by the Province

“Journey Home has accomplished so much in the last three years, and under difficult conditions created by the COVID-19 pandemic and rising housing costs,” said Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran. “Homelessness continues as an issue in our community, but there are reasons for optimism. Homelessness can be addressed. It’s been tackled in other communities and, with this refreshed strategy from Journey Home, I’m sure we will see even greater successes moving forward.”

The Mid-Term Report lays out a series of milestones leading to 2025. These include seeking a functional end to veteran homelessness by September 30, 2023, and connecting 90 per cent of people visibly experiencing homelessness to services by the end of 2024.

“There’s a whole network of dedicated people working in Kelowna’s homeless-serving sector,” said Gauthier. “They commit themselves to this work every day and I’m excited to continue building systems changes with them so we can arrive at this functional end to homelessness together.”

Functional zero homelessness indicates that available housing supply exceeds local demand. When functional zero is achieved and sustained, homelessness is rare, brief and non-recurring. A person is considered chronically homelessness when they experience homelessness for more than six months in a year or for more than 18 months in total over the past three years.

The City of Kelowna led development of the Journey Home Strategy in 2018, with extensive engagement and co-creation from people with Lived Experience, community stakeholders, government partners, and the wider public. The purpose of the Strategy was to develop a roadmap to end, mitigate, and prevent the experience of homelessness in Kelowna. The City and Journey Home have a formal Memorandum of Understanding to articulate their close partnership in meeting the goals of the Journey Home Strategy. Journey Home acts as a convener, collaborator, coordinator, and systems-shifting organization in the community, working with all stakeholders and levels of government to achieve progress on ending homelessness.