Report on the Outcomes and Recommendations of the Interior Region Shelter and Supportive Housing Operators Summit

The Interior Region Shelter and Supportive Operators Summit was initiated and organized by
three services organizations: ASK Wellness Society (Kamloops), the Canadian Mental Health
Association (Kamloops) and Penticton and District Society for Community Living (Penticton).
Invitations were sent out across the Interior Health Authority Region resulting in 17
organizations agreeing to participate. The need for the Summit was based on perceived
increasingly challenging experiences for service providers within the Interior of British
Columbia. The timing was especially important due to a recent announcement from the
provincial government of the establishment of a model of housing referred to as Complex Care.

In order to better understand the challenges and unique needs of the 17 participating
organizations, a pre-summit survey was distributed, of which 14 were completed. The following
summarizes highlights of the survey data.

Survey responses identified that participating organizations serve over 25 individual
communities across the Interior of British Columbia. Collectively, they manage and support over
2500 shelter beds and housing units in this region; of which, 10% were temporary or
emergency resources. They employ over 1700 staff to support their clients and organizations.

Since the onset of the pandemic in March of 2020, organizations have struggled with the
departure of over 15% of staff. Throughout this time, operators were also being asked to
develop programming and support 500 new housing units/shelter spaces. This has led to the
creation of over 170 new positions. This means that operators within the region have had to fill
over 600 vacant positions during one of the most challenging periods experienced by these
organizations and their communities. During this time, it was also reported that they have lost
32 clients to overdose and another 24 to issues associated with homelessness and the
pandemic.

In the pre-summit survey, participants were asked to identify their greatest challenges since the
onset of the pandemic in March of 2020. The top 5 challenges were:
1. Increased or unmanageable needs of the individuals we serve.
2. Lack of adequate access to housing stock to meet our community needs.
3. Community backlash and blaming our service providers for the issues our communities
are experiencing.
4. Staff turnover.
5. Staff morale.

Responses to the survey allowed the organizers to develop a format that allowed participants
to openly share their experiences, insights and identify recommendations for decision makers
as current programming is adapted and Complex Care is introduced to communities.

In total, 25 service operators from across the region participated in the Summit on February 28,
2022. DKS Consulting was retained by the organizers to assist in providing a structure for the
Summit, to synthesize the conversations into main themes and provide constructive and
meaningful feedback to BC Housing, the Interior Health Authority and municipal leaders.

The Summit involved a series of guided and facilitated discussions on the following topics:
• Relationships with our funders
• Relationships with our communities
• Challenges in providing effective services
• Challenges in staffing
• Recommendations for BC Housing, Interior Health Authority and Municipal Government
• Necessary components to support existing services and in establishing “Complex Care”
for our region

This report summarizes the knowledge shared in these discussions. The intention is to provide
guidance to decision makers that will positively impact service development, address the
challenges our communities are experiencing and to better serve and support the most
marginalized citizens living within them.

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