CMHA Middlesex gave a presentation on their Housing First program at the London Homeless Coalition’s general meeting on May 2, 2016. From their website:
The Housing First program works with individuals with mental health and housing issues to build stability and prevent homelessness. The team helps individuals to find and secure housing in the community and offers time-limited intensive support for housing stability.
The supports that are available are:
- Finding and securing permanent housing
- Support with daily living skills (cooking and cleaning)
- Support with community appointments, grocery shopping, etc
- Financial and budgeting needs
- Building relationships, support networks and finding meaningful activities in the community
- Crisis management and prevention
- Substance use an addiction support
- Support with physical and mental health needs
- Connecting with other resources and services in the community
Some features of the program are:
- Participants can self-refer, and don’t need a formal mental health diagnosis.
- Participants are provided with customized supports for their individual needs.
- Customer choice and self-determination are emphasized.
- Easy access to program staff for both tenants and landlords.
Why is this issue important for homeless prevention advocacy?
“Housing First” is an effective, results-based, recovery-oriented approach to ending homelessness that focuses on quickly moving people experiencing homelessness into independent and permanent housing, and then providing additional supports and services as needed. It is an approach first popularized by Sam Tsemberis and Pathways to Housing in New York in the 1990s, though there were Housing First-like programs emerging elsewhere, including Canada (HouseLink in Toronto) prior to this time. The basic underlying principle of Housing First is that people are better able to move forward with their lives if they are first housed. This is as true for people experiencing homelessness and those with mental health and addictions issues as it is for anyone. Housing is provided first and then supports are provided including physical and mental health, education, employment, substance abuse and community connections. (From the Homeless Hub website, here)
To learn more about CMHA Middlesex’s Housing First program, visit their website below.