KELOWNA – Interior Health and the City of Kelowna, along with the provincial Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions, confirmed the approval for the delivery of housing and supports for people with complex care needs living in the Central Okanagan.
Multiple sites in the community will deliver complex care housing for up to 20 people. The housing and health-care supports will be provided by Interior Health professional 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 Colin Basran, Kelowna Mayor and Co-chair of the BC Urban Mayors’ Caucus. “This announcement is a milestone for community health and safety in Kelowna, as we continue to see impacts related to mental health and problematic substance use. This model provides a health-centred approach to support those most vulnerable in our community, who will no longer need to shelter outside or rely as heavily on crisis and emergency services. We know that the need in Kelowna and the Okanagan region is great. 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. The service model is consistent with Kelowna’s Journey Home Strategy and has shown to be suitable and effective in supporting people with complex needs.
Interior Health will now 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, Interior Health president and CEO. “By working with our partners to embed clinical health supports in these new homes, we will ensure our community’s most vulnerable people are able to receive the care they need when and where they need it.”
Kelowna Council endorsed the City’s Complex Needs Advocacy Paper in July 2021 and has been a leading and consistent voice in the call for enhanced care and support for BC residents with the most complex health and mental health needs. It joins Interior Health, the Central Okanagan Journey Home Society, the BC Urban Mayors’ Caucus, and many other partners and municipalities in applauding the Provincial Government’s work in delivering a new model of care this year.
This complex care model provides supportive housing with an emphasis on intensive clinical health supports available 24/7. The new model will serve community members with concurrent 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, Central Okanagan Journey Home Society Executive Director. “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. This announcement will be transformational for our approach to homelessness and housing and speaks to the multiple-site model recommended in the Complex Needs Advocacy Paper. These new homes for up to 20 people with complex needs won’t solve homelessness in our community but it’s a big step in that direction.”