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VIDEO: Kelowna's official homelessness advocacy group will continue with or without the city's help

When city council voted to hold up the Journey Home's latest federal funding instalment earlier this month, the signal was loud and clear.

"The writing is on the wall," said Stephanie Gauthier.

The potential loss of municipal funding is not good news for the organization, but Gauthier said her society isn't about to pack up and go away.

"The Journey Home was set up as a separately incorporated entity for this very reason," said Gauthier. "So that the work continues. And it isn't beholden to change of local government."

Journey Home started as a city task force five years ago.

Its job was to map out a strategy to tackle the growing problem of homelessness.

Now it operates as a stand-alone society that gets $250,000 annually from the city for its advocacy work.

That funding is now in jeopardy.

City councillor Mohini Singh credits the organization for prompting the creation of 300 units of supportive housing in the city.

But she questions whether the city should continue funding the group after a funding agreement ends next year.

"Too early to say," said Singh.

"I think we need to look deeper into this and see how we can change it. Does this business model still work today?"

If funding is cut, Gauthier said it would free Journey Home to be more critical of city policies on the issue.

"We work very closely with city staff. We value those relations entirely," she said.

"But for sure, there's times when Journey Home has bit its tongue, when really as a stand-alone organization with our own independent funding separate to the city there would be the opportunity to be far more transparent."

Gauthier admits losing city funding would be a big blow, but she said the city simply can't bring an end to Journey Home.

"No they can't," she said, vowing to continue regardless of what the city decides.

"It's completely doable," Gauthier added, listing other funding sources including SPARC BC and the federal government.

And she suggests city council may be forgetting a key finding from the original Journey Home Task Force.

"No community that's making headway in addressing homelessness does it without a backbone organization," Gauthier said.

In the face of a major potential loss in funding, it seems The Journey Home Society is prepared to show some of that backbone.




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