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Ground-Breaking Research Shows that 'Housing First' Approach Working to End Homelessness

At Home/Chez Soi program achieving real results, say Canada's mental health leaders

OTTAWA, April 8, 2014 /CNW/ - New landmark research findings were released today by the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) that underscore the clear effectiveness of the 'Housing First' approach to ending homelessness amongst people with mental illness. The research was released at an event that featured the Honourable Candice Bergen, Minister of State (Social Development) and Canada's mental health leaders.

"At Home/Chez Soi shows us that this 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," said Louise Bradley, President and CEO of the Mental Health Commission of Canada. "We are proud to collaborate with our valued partners to lead this work. These kinds of bold solutions are the hallmark of our mandate."

"Providing permanent, secure housing," she added, "does more than keep a person off the streets and out of shelters, it provides a base from which to move forward. It creates hope where none existed. That's the import of Housing First."

At Home/Chez Soi was created in 2008 thanks to a $110 million investment from the Government of Canada. Demonstration sites included Vancouver, Winnipeg, Toronto, Montréal, and Moncton, and involved more than 2,000 Canadians with mental illness experiencing homelessness. Key findings from the study include:

  • Demonstrated housing stability for program participants in all regions of the country over a two-year period;
  • Program effectiveness for people from diverse ethno-cultural backgrounds and circumstances;
  • For highest service users, Housing First has proven particularly cost-effective with every $10 invested resulting in cost-savings of $21.72.

"Canada led the way with the At Home/Chez Soi project, the largest study of its kind," said the Honourable Candice Bergen, Minister of State (Social Development).  "We now have strong evidence that Housing First is an effective way to reduce homelessness. I am proud to celebrate this achievement along with our partners in the Mental Health Commission of Canada as we officially launch the start of the Housing First approach in Canada."

At least 200,000 Canadians experience homelessness annually, with 30,000 Canadians homeless on any given night. The issue of homelessness costs the Canadian economy $7 billion each year.

Canada is a world-leader when it comes to the Housing First approach.  While the model originated in New York City through the Pathways to Housing project, the MHCC has continued to grow the international profile of Housing First with the development of a Chez Soi initiative in France and the development of a Housing First conference in Portugal. At Home/Chez Soi was also featured at the recent Chicago International Housing First Conference and at the fall 2013 European Union Housing First Conference.

The At Home/Chez Soi national findings can be found here. To support communities interested in implementing Housing First, the lessons learned from At Home/Chez Soi and other Canadian Housing First programs have now been incorporated into a toolkit to guide the planning and implementation of effective Housing First programs in Canada. The web-based Housing First toolkit will be available in May 2014 on both the Mental Health Commission of Canada and the Homeless Hub websites.

The Mental Health Commission of Canada is a catalyst for change. We are collaborating with hundreds of partners to change the attitudes of Canadians toward mental health problems and to improve services and support. Our goal is to help people who live with mental health problems and illnesses lead meaningful and productive lives. Together we create change. The Mental Health Commission of Canada is funded by Health Canada.

www.mentalhealthcommission.ca | strategy.mentalhealthcommission.ca

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The views represented herein solely represent the views of the Mental Health Commission of Canada.
Production of this document is made possible through a financial contribution from Health Canada.

SOURCE Mental Health Commission of Canada

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