Vernon councillor calls for audit of supportive housing projects

Call for housing review

A Vernon city councillor is seeking a review of supportive housing projects in the city.

In a notice of motion, Coun. Scott Anderson intends to move that council support a Penticton motion calling for an independent audit of BC Housing-funded supportive housing projects.

The Penticton motion seeks to "determine if sufficient actions have been taken to support those in need of housing and what the impact of these housing projects has been on the community."

Anderson is calling for the audit to also include Vernon, that it evaluate addiction and psychiatric services services offered, access to those services, wait times, and an account of patient outcomes. Also, that it be shared in a letter from council to the provincial government.

His motion calls for an impact assessment of each project on the surrounding community and a moratorium on further projects until the audit is complete and made public.

The notice has caused alarm at Vernon's Turning Points Collaborative Society, which operates facilities in the city.

A post on Turning Points' website says: "City councillor seeks to suspend all future supportive housing projects in Vernon."

"We all know how effective and transformative My Place supportive housing is for residents, and that the access to services provided there has changed many lives," Turning Points states. "We also know that in the past several years, homelessness and crime in our city is down, and that access to housing has been the key contributor.

"The information the councillor seeks with this expensive and disruptive audit is already available through BC Housing’s public website or by picking up the phone to ask them (or us.)

"We believe that this motion would do nothing more than cause disruption in our community’s strong relationship with BC Housing, create a distraction for city staff and elected officials, cost the province an enormous amount of money, and potentially put vulnerable lives at risk. An audit is typically suggested when there is an issue of concern. Here there is not. Homelessness on our streets is down. Crime on our streets is down. Why question something that is working so well?"

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