Penticton’s annual Point-in-Time Count shows 45% increase in homelessness – Okanagan |


There has been a 45-per cent jump in the number of people experiencing homelessness in Penticton, B.C., according to the latest homeless count.

The Point-in-Time Count, released two weeks ago by BC Housing, provides a snapshot of those experiencing homelessness in a 24-hour period and found 166 unhoused people.

“We know the number that has been reported is the minimum and that is not the average or the maximum. It is the number of folks that we found on that particular day which was April 28, 2023,” said 100 More Homes co-chair Linda Sankey.

“One thing that stood out to us was the 45-per cent increase over the last numbers, which is really significant. Our committee has worked really hard to try and increase housing options for folks who are unhoused, and experiencing homelessness.

“Since 2018 there’s been about 175 units or bed spaces for folks that are unsheltered in Penticton, but those numbers keep increasing faster than we do or have actions to meet the means.”

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City of Kelowna partners with province to tackle homelessness

According to the report, 55 per cent of people experiencing homelessness used housing or an official shelter while 45 per cent did not.

It also showed that 75 per cent have one or more health conditions however homelessness is a significant barrier to getting treatment or healthcare.

“Our numbers really show that in order for people to access the services that they need you need a safe place to be able to return to, to lay down, to rest,” said Sankey.

“The Point-in-Time Count that came out really said that there is quite a number of people that are sleeping unsheltered, both on the street, in our surrounding woods and in cars, and if you have major health problems requiring surgery, you can’t recuperate from surgery and you can’t be well in anticipation of those health care problems that they have.”

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Local officials and advocates say although work has been done to help solve this issue, more needs to be done.

“Disappointing, obviously, considering everything that has been in this regard, several years, but really not surprising, as well, given everything that has happened in the province across the country as well,” said Penticton Mayor Julius Bloomfield.

“Totally commend them for the work that’s been done so far. There are several services; I don’t want to list them all out of fear of missing one but them, but they know who they are. We know who they are.

“They have done some great work up to date, but you can only do so much with all the tools that you’ve got and one tool that is missing is adequate housing.”

Click to play video: 'A single mom and her 2 children, 1 with special needs, are on the verge of homelessness due to lack of affordable housing'

A single mom and her 2 children, 1 with special needs, are on the verge of homelessness due to lack of affordable housing

Moving forward, the city says it is in communication with the province about what the community needs most.

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“We’ve had a number of social housings built in recent years, focused on supportive housing. But we need those next steps,” said Bloomfield

“We need those next steps and some low-cost workers’ housing, low-cost seniors housing, and low-cost family housing. There are big gaps that we are experiencing right now. Creating that kind of housing is what we are having discussions with the province with right now.”

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