UBC Okanagan, Okanagan College help tackle issues with homelessness

New funding from the federal government, UBC and the Vancouver Foundation aims to help improve services for the homeless. Global News

UBC Okanagan, along with Okanagan College and several local community groups, have received new funding to help understand needs and improve services for homeless people.

UBC, the federal government and the Vancouver Foundation made contributions amounting to over $200,000, says John Graham, UBC Okanagan School of Social Work director.

Graham says the money will be used in a multidisciplinary effort involving students and graduates in engineering, medicine and health, management and social sciences.

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UBC Okanagan and Okanagan College’s initiative focuses on three areas.

“The first: improvements in technology including database management improvements, and phone apps,” says Graham.

“These are important in helping to make homelessness strategies more responsive, efficient and at the same time, increasing the number of people who are able to be off the street.”

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The second focus area is to examine how homeless people experience stigma from businesses, neighbours and service users and providers, UBC Okanagan said in a statement.

Graham says for the third focus, “we are developing and evaluating a number of health and human service improvements.”

“We need better delivery of the specific service needs of those who have experienced traumatic brain injury, versus a major mental disorder, a substance misuse, generalized trauma, each of which frequently co-occur,” Graham said.

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“We now have a team in place that will significantly contribute to service improvements and reductions in homelessness.”

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UBC Okanagan expects more funding opportunities to come after receiving its initial investments.

Other organizations involved in the project include the Central Okanagan Journey Home Society, Interior Health, the City of Kelowna and the Canadian Mental Health Association.

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