Randy Benson the executive director of Kelowna's Gospel Mission has announced he will retire in 2020, after working at the Mission since 2001.
"I'm very thankful for the 18-plus years that I've had here, it's been a great ride for me," said Benson. "My hope and prayer is that the good work of the Gospel Mission will continue."
Benson who has been with the Mission for almost two decades says the homelessness issue has been growing at a rapid rate over the last couple of months.
"We've really seen a change in the homelessness picture, especially the last few years and obviously in the last few months...it's quite obvious that we need more affordable housing," said Benson.
Benson who recognizes that the City of Kelowna, BC Housing and the Journey Home Society are all working hard to establish better housing options for the homeless, believes the affordable housing in place isn't so affordable.
"People on income assistance, their finances just don't afford the housing that's out there today so that's a big issue," said Benson. "The other thing that we've really seen is an increase in the opioid crisis."
"It's going to take partnership of the health authorities and housing to really address the problem, it's a big one but we're working on it."
Since the tent city on Leon Avenue outside of the Mission was moved recently, Benson believes things for his staff have gotten a lot easier.
"Obviously the busyness on Leon has changed dramatically, safety is a big issue so now we don't have that problem with safety of cars going down [Leon Avenue]," said Benson.
"It's taken a lot of pressure off of my staff because before not only were we serving the 90 people that are staying in our Mission, there was another 80 or so people outside that we were engaging with and helping out."
As Benson gears up for retirement, he will be helping the board of directors to find a new executive director for the Mission.
"I really want it to be a good transition...I'm very thankful for what we've been able to accomplish," said Benson.
Benson plans on retiring in summer of 2020.