Finding low-cost housing online becomes possible with the launch of i-Search.

Click to play video: 'A new search engine provides more opportunity for people in need' A new search engine provides more opportunity for people in need
A new search engine provides more opportunity for people in need – Mar 29, 2017

Housing for people with low-income or no income in Kelowna has proven to be a challenge but with the launch of a new website it may become easier to access.

Ricky Lee has been homeless in Kelowna since November it hasn’t been an easy task looking for a place to call home.

“It’s been frustrating. It’s been a full-time job just going from one agency to another agency trying to find out what is available, how much it costs, where it is,” Lee said.

The search engine called i-Search, launched March 29 and was created by students and professors who collaborated with UBC Okanagan and Okanagan College. Their goal is to provide an
understandable solution to people in need of low-cost housing and many other necessities.

Jon Corbett, associate professor at UBC Okanagan, is the force behind i-Search and said it’s not just for homeless people.

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“Housing really is a social justice issue. This tool will help become a way that people will quickly be able to find information they need in order to access the housing market; in order to take people off the streets; in order to help young families in need access to low income housing,” he said.

People who plan to use the tool will have to gain access to a computer or mobile device but that’s not an issue for Lee who often uses the computers at the Okanagan Regional Library downtown Kelowna on Ellis St.

“All you have to do is go on the computer and all the information you need is right there,” Lee said. “I’ve only been computer literate for maybe a year now. It’s easy because it just repeats itself and once you know the basic program, you can look for anything you want on it, it’s obvious.”

The newly designed virtual mapping tool is primarily devoted to locating low-cost housing options but also assists in helping people in need find clean showers, a place to do laundry or a hot meal.

“People or clients, actually on the street, they have a completely different set of needs and so we included a set of information that we didn’t have in our initial project, which was information around drop in services,” Corbett said.

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