SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Sean Houghton, Glenn Rossman, Ignacio M. Llorente

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Government of Canada Invests in Housing First Homelessness Initiatives in Peel

MISSISSAUGA, ON, Aug. 18, 2014 /CNW/ - The Government of Canada is investing more than $4,600,000 in funding through the Regional Municipality of Peel as it implements Housing First, a proven, evidence-based approach to end homelessness. The Honourable Peter Van Loan, Leader of the Government in the House of Commons made the announcement today on behalf of the Honourable Candice Bergen, Minister of State (Social Development).

Housing First is the cornerstone of the Government's renewed Homelessness Partnering Strategy (HPS). It aims to stabilize the lives of homeless individuals for the long-term by first moving them into permanent housing and then providing additional support for underlying issues, such as addiction and mental health. The end goal is ensuring these individuals become self-sufficient, fully participating members of society.

The Regional Municipality of Peel is receiving this funding over five years to support projects in the community that prevent and reduce homelessness.

Quick Facts

  • The Housing First approach came into effect on April 1, 2014 and is being introduced gradually across the country over the next two years with specified funding targets, taking into account varying capacity and resources among communities.
  • On April 8, the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) released the final report of the At Home/Chez Soi project. It was the largest study of its kind and provided strong evidence that Housing First is an effective way to reduce homelessness.
  • Over the course of the MHCC study, participants in the Housing First group spent an average of 73 percent of their time in stable housing, compared to 32 percent for the group receiving usual care.
  • The study also showed that Housing First is a sound financial investment that can lead to significant cost savings. For those participants who were the highest users of emergency and social services, every $10 invested led to an average savings to government of $21.72.
  • Since the launch of the HPS in April 2007, approximately 32,000 Canadians who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless have benefitted from education and training opportunities, approximately 32,000 have received help to find work, and more than 5,600 new shelter beds have been created.

Quotes

"We are pleased to partner with the Regional Municipality of Peel to implement Housing First. Through this new approach, we can help people out of crisis, allowing them to build stable lives as full and accepted members of the community. Housing First is key to tackling mental health challenges and building stronger communities."
- The Honourable Peter Van Loan, Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Member of Parliament for York-Simcoe

"For a number of years, the Region of Peel has advocated the need to establish a national housing strategy that is predictable and sustainable; and one that encourages both private and public partnership. Alongside our 10-Year Housing Plan, the Housing First approach represents another component in meeting the needs of Peel's most vulnerable citizens and tackling the issue of homelessness in Peel. We look forward to working together with all levels of government."
- Emil Kolb, Regional Chair and Chief Executive Officer, Region of Peel

"The Government's renewal of the Homelessness Partnering Strategy with a shift to Housing First is great news. The results of the At Home/Chez Soi project clearly demonstrate that the Housing First approach works in Canada. A house is so much more than a roof over one's head. It represents dignity, security, and, above all, hope."
- Louise Bradley, President and CEO of the Mental Health Commission of Canada

Associated Links 

Backgrounder

Homelessness Partnering Strategy

The Homelessness Partnering Strategy (HPS) is a unique community-based program aimed at preventing and reducing homelessness by providing direct support and funding to 61 designated communities in all provinces and territories, as well as to Aboriginal, rural and remote communities across Canada, to help them address homelessness.

Economic Action Plan 2013 renewed the HPS with nearly $600 million in total funding over five years, ending in March 2019, using a Housing First approach.

Until recently, the most common way to deal with homelessness has been a 'crisis-based' model—not just in Canada, but in many developed countries. This model involves relying heavily on shelters and other emergency interventions. Typically, individuals must first participate in a series of treatments and demonstrate sobriety before they are offered housing. This approach has been costly and not effective for the long term.

Without stable housing, it's much more difficult to participate in treatment programs and manage mental and physical health issues. This leads to high costs for emergency housing, hospitalization, shelters, prisons and a host of other crisis services.

Housing First, on the other hand, involves ensuring individuals have immediate housing before providing the necessary supports to help them stabilize their lives. Experiences in other countries have demonstrated that this approach shows great promise.

In 2008, under the leadership of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the Government invested $110 million in the Mental Health Commission of Canada to undertake our own landmark study. The results demonstrated that:

  • Housing First rapidly ends homelessness and leads to other positive outcomes for quality of life.
  • It is a sound financial investment that can lead to significant cost savings. Every $10 invested led to an average savings to government of $21.72 for participants who used emergency and social services the most.
  • It works in the long term. Participants in the Housing First group spent an average of 73 percent of their time in stable housing over the course of the study, compared with 32 percent for the usual care group.

Overall, participants in the study were less likely to get in trouble with the law, and those who received both housing and supportive services showed more signs of recovery than those who did not.

Community Entity Model

HPS funding is delivered to eligible communities primarily through the Community Entity (CE) delivery model, except in some cases of Rural and Remote funding, such as in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories, where Service Canada is responsible for delivery. In Quebec, the HPS is delivered through a Canada-Quebec agreement that respects the jurisdictions and priorities of both governments in addressing homelessness.

Under the CE model, the federal government entrusts a community body, often a community's municipal government, to select and manage HPS projects in their area. All requests for funding must go through the CE. In addition, all requests for funding are assessed and recommended to the CE through a community advisory board or a regional advisory board, composed of a wide range of community stakeholders.

Implementation of the renewed Homelessness Partnering Strategy

The implementation of the renewed HPS is delivered through the following three funding streams, which provide funding to communities across Canada to support them in addressing homelessness. The Housing First approach, part of the renewed HPS, will be phased in with specified funding targets, taking into account varying capacity and resources among communities.

1)     Designated Communities

A total of 61 communities across Canada (including those in Quebec) that have a significant problem with homelessness have been selected to receive ongoing support to address this issue. These communities—mostly urban centres—are given funding that must be matched with contributions from other sources. Funded projects must support priorities identified through a community planning process.

  • Starting April 1, 2015, the largest designated communities will be required to invest at least 65 percent of HPS Designated Communities funding in Housing First activities.
  • Starting April 1, 2016, other designated communities receiving over $200,000 in HPS funding will be required to invest at least 40 percent of HPS Designated Communities funding in Housing First activities.
  • Designated communities that receive under $200,000 in HPS funding or are located in the North will be encouraged to implement Housing First but will not be required to meet set targets.

**Discussions regarding the Canada-Quebec Agreement on the Homelessness Partnering Strategy 2014-2019 are ongoing.

2)     Aboriginal Homelessness

Through the Aboriginal Homelessness funding stream the HPS partners with Aboriginal groups to ensure that services meet the unique needs of off-reserve homeless Aboriginal people in cities and rural areas.

  • Starting April 1, 2016, communities that receive more than $200,000 in HPS Aboriginal Homelessness funding will be required to invest at least 40 percent of HPS Aboriginal Homelessness funding in Housing First activities.
  • Communities that receive less than $200,000 in funding under the HPS Aboriginal Homelessness funding stream will be encouraged to implement Housing First but will not be required to meet set targets.

Please note that the unique needs of all First Nations, Inuit, Métis, and non-status Indians are considered, and that off-reserve Aboriginal people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness can also access services under the Designated Communities and Rural and Remote Homelessness funding streams.

3)     Rural and Remote Homelessness

The Rural and Remote Homelessness funding stream of the HPS funds projects in rural and remote areas of Canada outside the 61 designated communities.

  • This stream has adopted a two-tiered approach that is based on the rural population. Priority is given to projects in communities with populations of 25,000 and under (Tier 1).
  • In order to maximize the access of HPS funding to as many communities as possible across the country, activities in larger, non-designated communities with populations above 25,000 (Tier 2) may also be funded depending on the availability of funds.


SOURCE Employment and Social Development Canada

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