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Support grows for Selkirk College regional homelessness project

A social innovation project focused on homelessness in rural BC is gaining momentum with increasing support from across the region, according to Selkirk College.

The Bridging Rural Homelessness and Well-being project is being undertaken by a team at the college and has more than 20 community partners so far.

The project brings together diverse organizations and perspectives to collaborate for the overall aim to improve the well-being of those experiencing, or at risk of homelessness, in Castlegar, Nelson and Trail.

The college says the regional collaboration will help transfer lessons, avoid duplication, make best use of limited resources and experiment with regional solutions as conditions evolve.

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Kootenay Savings Credit Union is one of the community supporters and has contributed $15,000 to the regional project.

“Kootenay Savings is proud and excited to partner with Selkirk College on this regional homelessness response initiative,” CEO Mark McLoughlin said in a news release. “As a credit union, we strive to be relevant, resilient, and sustainable, and we want the same for the people in our communities. This regional project is an important step to better support our most vulnerable.”

The project involves Selkirk College students and faculty from several programs.

For example, an integrated environmental planning program student is building an asset map exploring how services and resources for people experiencing homelessness are distributed across the region. Additionally, this summer, two Selkirk College nursing program students will get paid internships to do street outreach throughout Castlegar, Trail and Nelson.

“Homelessness is a complex issue with so many variables that can make it a challenge to solve,” says Jayme Jones, Selkirk College researcher and project director.

“However, we have so much expertise in our region, especially those people who have lived or living experience of homelessness, who have great ideas for how to make things better. When we bring diverse perspectives and resources together, we create the conditions to make it possible to find solutions to homelessness that work in our specific rural context. This project aims to do that.”

A West Kootenay homelessness response summit is planned for Tuesday, May 16 in Castlegar.

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