Project Connect sparks conversation about housing for homeless

By Jill Sperling
October 11, 2017 - 3:41pm Updated: October 11, 2017 - 6:17pm

KAMLOOPS — Thirty-seven social agencies gathered at Spirit Square today (Oct. 11) to connect Kamloops's homeless population to important services. 

Project Connect is the main event of Homelessness Action Week, which runs from Oct. 8-14.

During this year's event people were able to pick up clothing items and information about available services. 

ASK Wellness provided HIV, Hepatitis C, and STI testing at their Overdose Prevention site, while Interior Health was giving out flu shots. 

However, Kira Haug with ASK Wellness says without proper housing it is difficult to address healthcare issues. 

"If you're not housed with a safe place to close the door, make a meal, and have some dignity, I don't think you're going to have the energy or inspiration to go seeking out those other pieces that you might need to address right, like mental health, chronic health, pain management, addiction issues, or treatment services, or replacement therapies," Haug said.

"All those things come hand in hand, and without increased housing and treatment it's a struggle for folks to take care of themselves." 

Local politicians also attended the event, echoing the sentiment that Kamloops is in need of more housing. 

While local agencies are working hard to provide support to the growing homeless population, acting mayor Arjun Singh says city council is working hard to get housing projects off the ground. 

"We're moving as quickly as we can to try and get projects off the ground now," Singh said. "I think a new provincial government has a lot of opportunity to work with, there's a federal government housing strategy at work here as well.

"It always takes all levels of government, it takes the community to come around it, so we're working pretty hard right now at City Hall to try and figure out how we can play a role, a key part of that whole effort, and make sure that as much as possible we get everybody who wants to be housed, housed." 

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