VANCOUVER, Nov. 4, 2014 /CNW/ - The Honourable Candice Bergen, Minister of State (Social Development), today addressed hundreds of community leaders, researchers and front-line workers from across Canada at the second National Conference on Ending Homelessness, hosted by the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness. She spoke about the Harper government's recent implementation of the renewed Homelessness Partnering Strategy (HPS) using the evidence-based Housing First (HF) approach while highlighting all of the progress made thus far.
The objective of the two-day conference is to train delegates on the development and delivery of HF programing, which is the cornerstone of the Government of Canada's renewed HPS.
Housing First is an evidence-based approach that 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.
- On April 1, communities across Canada started the implementation of the renewed Homelessness Partnering Strategy using the evidence-based Housing First approach. Its implementation is being phased in, taking into account the varying capacity and resources among communities.
- Economic Action Plan 2013 renewed the HPS with nearly $600 million in total funding over five years.
- Some HPS achievements between 2007 and 2014 include: placing over 80,000 people in more stable housing; creating more than 5,700 new permanent shelter beds to address immediate needs; helping over 34,000 Canadians pursue education or training opportunities; and assisting more than 16,000 people find part-time work, and another 16,000 find full-time employment.
"We've made great progress since the introduction of our new evidence-based Housing First approach. In a few short months, communities across our country have demonstrated their readiness and begun the implementation process. Working with our partners, like the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness, we look forward to continuing to move away from band-aid solutions so we can instead focus on the longer-term and eliminate homelessness altogether."
– The Honourable Candice Bergen, Minister of State (Social Development)
The 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 is 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 Housing First study known as At Home/Chez Soi. 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 of $21.72 for participants who used emergency and social services the most; and
- 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. 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.
In Quebec, the HPS is delivered through a Canada–Quebec agreement that respects the jurisdictions and priorities of both governments in addressing homelessness.
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 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 which 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.
2) Aboriginal Homelessness
Through the Aboriginal Homelessness funding stream, the HPS partners with Aboriginal service providers to ensure that services meet the unique needs of off-reserve homeless Aboriginal people in cities and rural areas.
- Starting April 1, 2016, communities which 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 which 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
Renseignements: Christine Csversko, Office of Minister Bergen, 819-994-2482; Media Relations Office, Employment and Social Development Canada, 819-994-5559, [email protected]