“Housing First is an approach that offers permanent, affordable housing as quickly as possible for individuals and families experiencing homelessness, and then provides the supportive services and connections to the community-based supports people need to keep their housing and avoid returning to homelessness.” –wikipedia

Our involvement in homelessness over the years has been extensive.  For over seven years we administered the Specialized Community Assistance Program (SCAP), where we worked with over three hundred homeless community members towards long-term achievement of the principles of Housing First:  a home, further independence through life skills development, access to healthcare, supports needed to maintain housing, pre-employment and employment skills, and community involvement.

Throughout our years with SCAP, we met and worked with countless amazing people, with equally amazing stories.  What we discovered through this project is that everyone has a unique set of circumstances that leads them down their path.  Some encounter more obstacles than others along the way.  We learned that treating every individual as an equal, and being curious about their lives, family histories, traumas, etc. often make understanding their place of homelessness very clear.  We learned that as well as having difficulties, every individual has strengths.  Through displaying interest in their pasts, talking about their achievements, and encouraging future growth we watched self-worth and self-esteem grow.  We have been fortunate to meet many, many folks whom we now call friends.

In addition to the clients we worked with, we are very fortunate to have developed lasting partnerships with our area’s incredible service providers. Developing these working partnerships and friendships helps us all immensely in our daily work – a great deal of our learning has come from the expertise of our partners.

We are talking about homelessness today, because Piers is very happy to announce that we have been approved by the BC Rural & Remote Homelessness Partnering Strategy to begin providing services to West Kelowna community members who are homeless and/or at-risk of homeless. This project is funded by the Government of Canada’s Homelessness Partnering Strategy, (BCHPS) and is hosted by The Prince George Nechako Aboriginal Employment & Training Association (PGNAETA).

We will be working together with the Westbank United Church to deliver the Homeward Project.  This program will include housing placement and support, and life skills and pre-employment services to West Kelowna’s homeless and at-risk of homeless community members.  We will focus on providing individuals with resources and training to help prevent homelessness, and swiftly finding housing for those without a home.  We will equip individuals to become more independent through life skills sessions and will provide hands on vocational experience with pre-employment training. Plus, we will assist people who are urgently requiring basic needs and/or urgent services with the necessary resources.  We will build relationships with local landlords and businesses community members, West Kelowna Shelter Association, and other service providers on the West side starting April 1, 2018.

We look forward to this new chapter for Piers; should you have any questions please call (250) 878-2740.

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