Both good news and not such good news for people who are homeless in Salmon Arm and those who support them.
Applications for a homeless outreach worker from BC Housing as well as a community integration specialist (CIS) from the B.C. Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction have been submitted and supported by local social service agencies.
The two jobs are described as different but complementary.
Inquiries from the Observer about the status of those applications reveals that one has been approved, the other not.
Salmon Arm will be getting help from a community integration specialist based out of Vernon, starting in September.
States an email from the ministry: “Salmon Arm is to be supported by staff from the North Okanagan CIS team; specifically there will be 2 Community Integration Specialists located in Vernon who will begin working in September.”
Asked if the specialists will be coming to Salmon Arm, the answer appears to be yes.
“Community Integrations Specialists based in Vernon will be working with clients and service providers in Salmon Arm and providing supports to meet the needs of that community.”
Regarding a homeless outreach worker from BC Housing, the answer is no.
“BC Housing is not hiring a new outreach worker at this time. To make sure people experiencing homelessness have the supports they need, the Province recently announced a supportive housing project that includes 38 new homes for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness with staff onsite providing 24/7 support.”
The email included a link to a news release describing the housing project being built at 540 Third St. SW.
BC Housing also stated it already funds 62 spaces for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness in Salmon Arm: 16 at the temporary Lighthouse Emergency Shelter run by the Salvation Army, 18 supportive housing spaces at SILA House run by Shuswap Independent Living Association (SILA), and 28 supportive housing spaces at Foxridge, run by the Canadian Mental Health Association.
Dawn Dunlop, executive director of the Shuswap/Revelstoke branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association and a longtime advocative for housing, said she is really excited about the CIS position.
“It’s a much-needed outreach service delivery model. We’re excited to be working with the ministry with this new model.”
Asked about it being based out of Vernon, she said it will depend on how it plays out. She said she’s happy the person will have dedicated days in Salmon Arm and hopes they will be accessible via phone at other times.
Regarding the BC Housing denial, she said social agencies will continue to advocate for the much-needed program.
“For some reason Salmon Arm and the Shuswap were left off the list (for homeless outreach workers) almost a decade ago… We’ve always said we’re really happy with the BC Housing investment in this community. We’ve got a very large project underway so thank you very much, but we’re still going to continue to advocate for what we need.”