Ideas tackling homelessness

Innovators came together to collaborate and share their ideas on the current housing and homeless situation in Kelowna on Wednesday night.

UBC Okanagan and Okanagan College hosted the panel at the Innovation Centre Theatre where four speakers took the floor to discuss their ideas that were made in the Okanagan.

UBC professor and iSearch coordinator Jon Corbett said 84 different organizations are working on the issue of homelessness in the Central Okanagan.

“There is very little coordination, there is no central point of access for people to understand what those services are, how they are accessible,” he said.

Corbett then pointed to the colourful iSearch map that allows users to locate multiple organizations on a website.

From the data on the site, they discovered there was a spike in December searching for housing and a large number of searches for women's housing.

Happipad’s Cailan Libby revealed his vision of iGen, connecting students and seniors in the Okanagan.

“iGen is a program that connects students and seniors to form an inter- generational relationship,” he described,

Libby said three problems he is trying to address with iGen is affordable housing, social isolation and loneliness.

The program works by pairing like minded students and seniors together.

“We have a lot of homes in this city already, in fact we could house 60 per cent of the entire post secondary population in the homes of just the widows' households in Kelowna,” he said.

The next presenter was Bryn Crawford working on UBC’s Homeless Personal Carrier project which provides a secure vehicle for homeless people to store their belongings.

“The cart itself appears to be mostly a replacement for the classic shopping cart we may see members of the homeless community using on the streets,” he told the crowd.

But unlike a traditional cart, the Personal Belongings Carrier has a lock and opportunity for self expression.

“We are trying to provide a vehicle for street people to have their belongings become protected and secured,” he said.

This will allow individuals to access services and take necessary steps to move into a housing environment.

The idea evolved from speaking with homeless people in Kelowna, RCMP, metro community church.

Lastly, Tara Tschritter with Little House Contracting focused on sustainability and environment.

“The people most interested in living little is young demographic as well as the seniors,” she said.

Tschritter and her team have spent time on small space renovations and carriage homes in the Okanagan.

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