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Kelowna  

Dangerous city for homeless

A new report from the BC Coroners Service reveals Kelowna is a particularly dangerous city for the homeless.

The report, which looks at homeless deaths in B.C. between 2007 and 2016, shows there's been a sharp increase in the deaths of homeless people as the opioid crisis ravages the province.

In the report, homelessness was defined as those living outdoors, in any other structure not intended for habitation, or those using short-term shelters. 

In 2016, 175 homeless people died across the province, up from 73 the year before – an increase of 140 per cent.

On average, between 2007 and 2015, 63 per cent of accidental deaths were attributed to unintentional drug/alcohol poisoning, but that jumped to 86 per cent in 2016.

In 2016, 10 homeless people died in Kelowna, the fourth highest number in the province behind Vancouver (42), Surrey (17) and Victoria (16). When population is factored in, Kelowna was the second most dangerous city in the province to be homeless in, behind only Victoria.

Those 10 deaths in 2016 were a sharp jump from years prior – there was three deaths in 2015, one in 2014 and none in 2013.

Last year, Kelowna's annual homeless count found there were 286 homeless people in the city.

Kelowna's Inn From the cold shelter was closed down in late January, while the Cornerstone emergency shelter on Leon Avenue was recently given a three-month extension, allowing it to remain open until June.

More permanent housing is on the way for Kelowna's most vulnerable, after city council approved rezoning for the contentious Agassiz Road supportive housing development in January.



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