Homelessness is a pressing issue in York Region and something that can happen to anyone at any given time. Homelessness also comes at a cost for the system. According to the Homeless Hub, research has shown that the cost to house someone is significantly cheaper than shelter beds or hospital stays.
We are currently looking for landlords that would be willing to house those experiencing homelessness. Along with the opportunity to give back to people in need, both yourself and your tenant will be supported by our Home First Community Support Team, as well as have the opportunity to receive a rent supplement and the possibility of securing a long-term tenant while they are engaged in our services.
“Working with this program I have been able to see both staff and landlords connect with clients to support them to the best of their abilities. Staff go above and beyond to support their clients and will exhaust every avenue to support a client in obtaining their housing goals.” ~ Victoria, Home First Community Team Member
What is Homelessness?
According to the Canadian definition, homelessness describes, “the situation of an individual or family without stable, appropriate housing, or the means and ability of acquiring it.” Along the continuum, there are four main categories of homelessness including: unsheltered, emergency sheltered, provisionally accommodated and at a risk of homelessness.
What is the State of Homelessness in York Region?
In 2018, the I Count: York Region’s 2018 Homeless Count, showed that approximately 389 people are without a home in York Region. Additionally, according to The State of Homelessness in Canada: 2016 Report, at least 235,000 Canadian’s experience homelessness every year, with approximately 35,000 people who are homeless on any given night.
Why is Housing Important?
A stable and supportive living environment is vital to managing the health and well-being of all, especially for people experiencing homelessness. In fact in 2012, The Mental Health Commission of Canada, included housing as one of the core elements of recovery, along with education, income and work.
The COVID-19 pandemic has only further highlighted the importance of housing as a social determinant of health. In one study by researchers in Toronto, it was found that people who are experiencing homelessness are at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19, because of the inability to practice physical distancing, as well as a lack of housing and shelter conditions.
Stigma and Discrimination as a Barrier to Housing
People with poor mental health are more vulnerable to the three main factors that can lead to homelessness:
- Personal Vulnerability
According to a study by researchers in Toronto, those with mental illness are also more likely to experience stigma and discriminatory behaviours that can further contribute to their homelessness. Stigma and discrimination based on skin colour, income level, presence of health conditions, lifestyle, sexuality and gender identity can additionally contribute to a person’s ability to maintain stable housing, only further contributing to their mental illness, hindering their recovery journey.
Myths About Homelessness
There are many common misconceptions about people who experiencing homelessness. The image below debunks some of these myths, by providing truthful information about each statement.
In our program we see every day how resilient our clients are. We know through resilience research, that seeking support from family, friends and professionals, as well as engaging in meaningful activities, is an extremely effective coping strategy. In addition, research also shows that many people experiencing homelessness have adopted resilience strategies to cope despite social, housing and health challenges. Some of these resilience strategies outlined by those experiencing homelessness include affirmation statements, such as:
- Stay strong and thankful
- Looking to live
- Hope to move forward
- Remain optimistic and confident
“In this position you often get exposed to the harsh realities of many (people experiencing homelessness). However, I am always amazed by their resilience. Clients, who have been cast off by others as too difficult to place, manage to break through barriers never thought possible, in order to not only successfully obtain housing, but also to maintain it for many years to come, while building and connecting to a community of their own.” ~Laurie, Home First Community Team Member
Reducing Homelessness Using the Housing First model
Here at CMHA, we use the Housing First Model in order to find effective intervention for individuals experiencing homelessness and mental illness. Created in the 1990’s, the primary focus of the Housing First Model is to provide housing first and then supports, allowing people to improve their mental health and community connections.
Essential Elements of Housing
People with mental illness who are experiencing homelessness should have the ability to choose where they want to live and what community care would be best for their situation. Their housing should also be cost-effective, dependable, and safe.
How You Can Get Involved: Information for Landlords
“The landlords we work with support our clients in reaching their goals by giving them housing.” ~ Victoria, Home First Community Team Member
With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the need for safe and permanent housing for people experiencing homelessness and mental illness is even more crucial. The Home First program is an effective approach to help to reduce homelessness, but cannot be done without the support of landlords. Some benefits of working in collaboration with the Home First Program, are:
- The opportunity to give back to the community and help people in need
- Ability to secure possible long-term tenants
- Dedicated staff to provide both the landlord and tenant with support and services while a tenant is enrolled in our services
- Opportunity of gaining a rental supplement while a tenant is enrolled in our services
- Ability to be matched with a tenant that best meets the needs of your accommodations
If you are a landlord in York Region or South Simcoe that has housing available (at a cost of no more than $1200 per month) and would like to help out those in need in your community, please contact:
Home First Community Support
Social Science and Medicine: Longitudinal interrelationships of mental health discrimination and stigma with housing and well-being outcomes in adults with mental illness and recent experience of homelessness