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Housing and healthcare supports coming for vulnerable Central Okanagan residents

New complex care spaces are expected to open this winter

Housing and healthcare supports are coming for up to 20 people with complex care needs in the Central Okanagan.

It’s a partnership between Interior Health (IH), the City of Kelowna, and the B.C. Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions.

“Complex care housing is a groundbreaking approach for people with overlapping severe mental health and substance use challenges, who often have acquired brain injury,” said Sheila Malcolmson, minister of mental health and addictions.

“B.C. funding up to 20 complex care spaces in Kelowna will connect people with the services they need, in these new homes, establishing stability and breaking the cycle of eviction and homelessness.”

Housing and supports will be delivered over multiple sites in the community and provided by IH staff and contracted service providers.

“This is a significant step in the right direction and on behalf of council we celebrate today’s news that our most vulnerable residents, who are potentially a harm to themselves or the public, will gain access to an increased level of care and housing,” said Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran. “There’s more work to do and we will continue our conversations and collaboration with the province to build supports for those most in need in our community.”

The new complex care spaces are expected to open this winter. IH will work with community partners and the city to confirm locations and service providers.

“A lack of safe and secure housing is a significant barrier for people with severe mental illness and substance use disorders,” said Susan Brown, IH president and CEO.

The new model will serve community members with mental health and substance use disorders, acquired brain injuries, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, and developmental disabilities that often lead to challenges accessing housing as well as frequent use of crisis and emergency services.

“There are residents in Kelowna who are left to shelter outside, on the street because there’s no other place for them to go,” said Stephanie Gauthier, executive director Central Okanagan Journey Home Society. “We have a grave need for more housing locally, and a backlog of need for supportive housing, particularly for those with the most complex needs.”

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Gary Barnes

About the Author: Gary Barnes

Journalist and broadcaster for three decades.
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