Inn Home Support - Homelessness Prevention Program

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Inn Home Support - Homelessness Prevention Program

Kelowna, CanadáKelowna, Canadá
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Homeless prevention through advocacy, support and community integration. Volunteer advocacy paired with professional support prevents homelessness.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Three years ago, following direction which came about through discussions with Outreach agencies in Kelowna, we developed the Inn Home Support program. Social workers expressed that they were challenged in supporting clients once they were settled into housing, often due to obligations to move onto more pressing cases. It is well known and documented that homelessness can become a cycle for many of our most vulnerable community members. There are supports in place to get people into housing, but due to ongoing demand for housing placement services there is little professional support left to help people maintain housing. Obtaining housing can be a very isolating experience for many formerly homeless members of our community. This program addresses this isolation.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

The program brings together a client, referred by a caseworker from a social agency, and a volunteer advocate. Advocates are trained and supported year round by the Inn Home Support Program Coordinator. The role of the advocate is to relate to the client – individual, couple or family – as a friend and mentor. Advocates may perform a variety of services such as: assist with filling out forms, help the client to enroll in a class, assist with budgeting, mediate with a landlord or neighbor, negotiate a payment plan with a utility, meet for coffee, find info on community resources, deliver a food hamper, participate in hobbies and simply visit, listen and be a friend. Advocates do not to act as counselors or professionals in their relationships with clients. After each client visit, the Advocate records a brief summary of the visits.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

The Inn-home Support coordinator referring case-worker, and the advocate remain in communication by way of a confidential log, through which the advocate summarizes visits with his/her client friend. These reports are confidential and read only the Inn Home Support Coordinator and the Social Service Agency worker. This allows any issues the client may have to be flagged and addressed by the professional outreach worker prior to a crisis situation that could lead to housing loss. On average, visits take place weekly, last an hour or two and, to provide real stability, require a minimum of a one year commitment from the advocate (The client can end the association anytime). There have been 58 client/advocate matches since the program inception and 55 clients have maintained housing. This 95% success rate is extraordinary. This program, although not resulting in material products or impressive buildings, is a quiet, gentle, people-to-people structured approach for increasing housing stability. Often we find that advocates do far more that we would ever ask or require of staff or volunteers, purely because it’s based on a relationships of mutual respect and kindness, and that’s how friends interact.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

There is no other agency in Kelowna that provides this type of volunteer advocacy and mentoring support to the formerly homeless and at risk of homelessness population. This program supplements the work of many agencies that have professional outreach workers. This includes Outreach Urban Health, Brain Trust, Living Positive Resource Center, Canadian Mental Health Association, Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society, our own agency, among others. By working together we have a better chance of supporting the multiple, complex needs of this vulnerable population.

Founding Story

Have you ever wondered what a community without homelessness might look like? So have we, and we believe that prevention is the key!In the office at the helping agency, the case-worker voices her dismay, “We cannot follow up. We deal with the crisis, place persons in housing, provide critical assistance. Then we must leave them on their own.” Everywhere, it’s the same story. The image of home visits comes into focus – volunteers go out to people, listen and respond as friends. People from two distinct communities, with nothing to gain from each other but insight, respect and companionship, agree to spend time together. The more vulnerable one has an ally, a connection, some support to remain housed. Agencies provide context, legitimacy and the avenue to professional assistance if need arises. Screening and training give security. Workshops enlighten service. These puzzle pieces arrange themselves, forming a gift.
About You
Inn from the Cold - Kelowna
About You
First Name


Last Name


About Your Organization
Organization Name

Inn from the Cold - Kelowna

Organization Country

, BC, Kelowna

Country where this solution is creating social impact

, BC, Kelowna

Region in BC where your solution creates social impact

Thompson Okanagan.

How long has your organization been operating?

More than 5 years

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How long have you been in operation?

Operating for 1‐5 years

Which of the following best describes the barrier(s) your solution addresses? Choose up to two

Access, Quality, Equity.

Social Impact
Please describe the goal of your initiative; outline what you are trying to achieve

The primary goal of this initiative is prevent clients from becoming homeless again. By partnering volunteer Advocates with clients who are vulnerable to eviction, we are able to monitor the stability of the clients’ housing situations and arrange interventions to prevent eviction rather than trying to respond to an eviction after the fact. The program also aims to deepen the understanding in the wider Kelowna community of the challenges faced by vulnerable people by encouraging the long-term, one-to-one partnership between Advocates and clients.

What has been the impact of your solution to date?

The Inn Home Support program has been operations since 2008. Over the course of four years, some 62 clients have participated in the program. Of those, only two have lost their housing and, in both cases, new housing was secured shortly after their eviction. No client who has participated in the program is currently homeless. Twenty seven of the 62 clients are currently active in the program.

What is your projected impact over the next five years?

We would like to expand the program to include up to 40 active client participants while maintaining our successful record of preventing homelessness among the participants. The cost savings to the community of this voluntary based program, though not quantified, are believed to be very significant in terms of reduced need for medical emergency services alone. With Advocates regularly monitoring and reporting on the well being of clients, professional service providers are often able to intervene before a crisis escalates.

What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?

There is no shortage of potential clients for the program. The real challenge in expanding the program is the difficulty in attracting new volunteers in general and male volunteers in particular to partner with clients. To date, we have targeted the general population and relied upon word of mouth to attract volunteers. A more targeted approach at recruitment should yield better results. Recruitment efforts will more strategically be targeted at a wider range of faith based organizations (churches, mosques and temples) as well as service organizations (Rotary/Kinsmen clubs , retired teachers organisations etc. ).

Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact

Increase the number of active client/Advocate partnerships to 30.

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your six-month milestone
Task 1

Undertake a survey of existing faith based organizations and service clubs in the Kelowna area.

Task 2

Arrange for recruitment presentations for these groups.

Task 3

Active follow-up on expressions of interest that these presentations may generate.

Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone

Increase the number of active client/Advocate partnerships to 40.

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your 12-month milestone
Task 1

Continue to identify appropriate groups and arrange recruitment presentations. Avertise on social media and local classifieds.

Task 2

Arrange follow-up presentations to groups earlier approached.

Task 3

Increase and diversify activities in recruiting from existing sources of volunteers.

Tell us about your partnerships

We have partnerships with various community agencies to operate this innovative program. Each program client is referred by a community outreach worker that provides professional support in addition to the advocacy and mentorship provided by our volunteers. These agencies include Canadian Mental Health Association, Brain Trust, Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society and Outreach Urban Health among others.

Are you currently targeting other specific populations, locations, or markets for your solution? If so, where and why?

We are currently looking at expanding our program to target youth that are in transition from the foster care system to adulthood. We are exploring this possibility in partnership with Canadian Mental Health in Kelowna.

What type of operating environment and internal organizational factors make your innovation successful?

As a volunteer based organizations our overhead costs are kept very low. This builds community while creating a sustainable budget.

Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren't specified within the list