SURREY, BC, June 25, 2014 /CNW/ - The Harper Government is investing more than $41 million in funding through Metro Vancouver as it implements Housing First, a proven, evidence-based approach to end homelessness. The announcement was made today by the Honourable Candice Bergen, Minister of State (Social Development).
Housing First is the cornerstone of the Government's renewed Homelessness Partnering Strategy (HPS). It 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 problems. The end goal is ensuring these individuals become self-sufficient, fully participating members of society.
Metro Vancouver is receiving this funding over five years to support projects that prevent and combat homelessness in the Vancouver area.
- The Housing First approach came into effect on April 1, 2014, and is being introduced gradually across the country over the next two years with specified funding targets, taking into account varying capacity and resources among communities.
- In April, the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) released the final report of the At Home/Chez Soi project. It was the largest study of its kind and provided strong evidence that Housing First is an effective way to reduce homelessness.
- Over the course of the MHCC study, an average of 73 percent of participants in the Housing First group remained in stable housing, compared to 32 percent for the group receiving usual care.
- The study also showed that Housing First is a sound financial investment that can lead to significant cost savings. For those participants who were the highest users of emergency and social services, every $10 invested led to an average savings to government of $21.72.
- Since the launch of the HPS in April 2007, nearly 25,000 Canadians who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless have benefited from education and training opportunities; over 27,000 have received help to find work, and more than 4,800 new shelter beds have been created.
"We are pleased to partner with Metro Vancouver to implement Housing First. Through this new evidence-based approach, we can move out of crisis mode in terms of managing homelessness and work towards eliminating it altogether, building stronger communities and ensuring Canada's long-term prosperity."
- The Honourable Candice Bergen, Minister of State (Social Development)
"With Metro Vancouver serving as the local link for this funding, we're well-placed to help end the cycle of homelessness in our communities. I thank the Government of Canada for its ongoing support and acknowledge the efforts of our partners in the Homelessness Secretariat and the Metro Vancouver Steering Committee on Homelessness, all of whom work together to help reduce and prevent homelessness in our region."
- Wayne Wright, Chair of Metro Vancouver Housing Committee and Mayor of City of New Westminster
"The Government's renewal of the Homelessness Partnering Strategy with a shift to Housing First is great news. The results of the At Home/Chez Soi project clearly demonstrate that the Housing First 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."
- Louise Bradley, President and CEO Mental Health Commission of Canada.
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 its own landmark study. The results demonstrated that Housing First:
- ends homelessness rapidly and leads to other positive outcomes for quality of life;
- is a sound financial investment that can lead to significant cost savings; and
- works in the long term.
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, except in the cases of rural and remote funding in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories, where Service Canada is responsible for delivery. In Quebec, the HPS is delivered through a Canada-Quebec agreement that respects the jurisdictions and priorities of both governments in addressing homelessness.
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.
Implementation of the renewed Homelessness Partnering Strategy
Implementation of the renewed HPS is 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 have been selected to 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 at least $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 that 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.
Discussions regarding the Canada-Quebec Agreement on the Homelessness Partnering Strategy 2014-2019 are ongoing.
2) Aboriginal Homelessness
Through the Aboriginal Homelessness funding stream the HPS partners with Aboriginal groups to ensure that services meet the unique needs of homeless Aboriginal people living off-reserve in cities and rural areas.
- Starting April 1, 2016, communities that receive more than $200,000 in HPS funding will be required to invest at least 40 percent of HPS Aboriginal Homelessness funding in Housing First activities.
- Communities that receive less than $200,000 under the HPS Aboriginal Homelessness funding stream will be encouraged to implement Housing First but will not be required to meet set targets.
The unique needs of all First Nations, Inuit, Métis, and non-status Aboriginal people are considered. Aboriginal people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness and live off-reserve 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).
- To maximize access to HPS funding by 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
For further information:
Office of the Minister