MONTRÉAL, June 12, 2014 /CNW/ - The Mental Health Commission of Canada's
landmark research project on homelessness and mental health - At
Home/Chez Soi - today released the results from its Montréal project
site. The results are clear: the Housing First model works. It gets
people off the streets, there are clear economic benefits, and people
who are homeless and living with mental illness can aspire to a better
quality of life.
"In Montréal, the number of homeless people continues to rise, despite
various programs and investments. We wanted to know whether using a new
approach could produce a different outcome. After four years, we can
affirm that the Housing First model makes it possible to help people
experiencing homelessness, including those who have been homeless for
many years and are dealing with major mental health problems; it
enables them to gain stability in their lives with housing of their
choice and at minimal cost to society," explained Eric Latimer, PhD,
lead investigator for the At Home/Chez Soi Montréal research project,
researcher at the Douglas Mental Health University Institute, and
Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at McGill University.
"To have your own apartment not only represents a level of safety, it
also promotes dignity and hope for the future," adds Sonia Côté, former
project coordinator for the At Home/Chez Soi Montréal project. "With
proper housing, people are in a much better position to take care of
their physical and mental health, to reconnect with their families, to
contemplate entering the job market, and to fulfill projects and
Housing First is feasible in Montréal.
The At Home/Chez Soi team recruited 73 owners of rental properties
located in several Montréal neighbourhoods and successfully housed 276
people in the space of 20 months.
Housing First is effective.
During the last six months of the study, 60 per cent of participants
classified as having high needs were in stable housing, compared to the
31 per cent of high-need participants who continued to receive usual
services. The differences were more pronounced among participants with
moderate needs; 72 per cent were housed all the time during that
period, compared to 29 per cent of participants receiving usual
Participants improved their quality of life on many levels: they claim
to have better mental health, to have experienced less stress, to have
restored relationships with members of their families, and also to have
reduced their use of drugs and alcohol.
Housing First resulted in lower costs associated with other services.
For every $10.00 invested in the Housing First model, $8.27 was saved in
money spent on other services such as hospitalization, shelters, police
services, and the judicial system for high-need participants and $7.19
was saved for moderate-need participants.
"The success of the Housing First model in Montréal and in the other
four cities in Canada shows that we have a winning strategy for helping
people move away from homelessness," stated Louise Bradley, President
and CEO of the Mental Health Commission of Canada. "We are proud to
have worked with a number of partners in Montréal on this innovative
An overview of the At Home/Chez Soi project and Housing First model
The At Home/Chez Soi project is a randomized, experimental study funded
by Health Canada and conducted by the Mental Health Commission of
Canada. In 2008, the Canadian government allocated $110 million to the
project which was established in five cities: Montréal, Vancouver,
Winnipeg, Toronto, and Moncton.
The aim of the project was to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of
the Housing First approach, as compared to the range of usual services
available to people who are homeless and living with mental illness.
Housing First provided people experiencing homelessness and mental
illness with immediate access to subsidized housing of their choice and
clinical services adapted to meet their needs, without preconditions.
This approach differs from the traditional continuum of care model that
requires homeless people to demonstrate a level of behaviour deemed
adequate in order to move towards housing with increased autonomy.
The Montreal At Home/Chez Soi study was conducted between 2009 and 2013
and 469 participants were recruited, 306 of whom were classified as
having moderate needs and 163 as having high needs. Participants were
randomly assigned to receive either a Housing First intervention or
usual services provided to people who are homeless in Montréal.
ABOUT THE MENTAL HEALTH COMMISSION OF CANADA
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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
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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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