Long-term effectiveness of Housing First to address homelessness to continue
to be studied
Calgary, Alberta | September 3, 2013
New funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) is ensuring research will continue for an additional four years at the Toronto project site of the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s (MHCC) At Home/Chez Soi.
By building on the information collected by the MHCC in the world’s largest study of Housing First, this research will enhance understanding of the long-term effectiveness of Housing First as a means to address homelessness for those living with mental health problems and illnesses.
CIHR has awarded a $1.9 million operating grant to the Centre for Research on Inner City Health (CRICH) at St. Michael’s Hospital, the research team that followed participants from the MHCC’s At Home/Chez Soi Toronto site for two years. This grant will allow CRICH to continue to follow approximately 450 participants in Toronto for an additional four years.
“This funding recognizes the importance of At Home/Chez Soi and the one-of-a-kind opportunity we have to build on our knowledge of the long-term effectiveness, including cost-effectiveness, of Housing First for individuals with mental health issues who have been homeless,” says Stephen Hwang, Research Scientist at CRICH and Chair in Homelessness, Housing and Health at St. Michael’s Hospital. “The findings from this study will inform future planning and resource allocation to address the problem of homelessness in Canada.”
Launched in 2009, At Home/Chez Soi was a four‐year research demonstration project, designed to investigate the best ways to help people who are homeless and experiencing mental health issues. The project used a Housing First approach, with participants offered housing through rent subsidies and access to mental health services and supports. The research took place in Toronto, Montréal, Moncton, Winnipeg and Vancouver, with research officially ending in March 2013. A final report on the effectiveness of this approach will be released by the MHCC in the coming months.
“CIHR understands that Canadians with mental health issues who also must endure the absence of a home are also facing great difficulties in securing the specialized health care required to function independently in today’s society,” says Dr. Anthony Phillips, Scientific Director of the CIHR Institute of Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction. “It is important for us to support challenging research projects of this kind, that document the impact of the transition to comfortable and safe housing on the health of these individuals.”
“Research from At Home/Chez Soi has demonstrated that when you give a home and the right supports to someone who is homeless and has a serious mental health issue, they can live independently while turning less frequently to costly health and justice services,” says Louise Bradley, MHCC President and CEO. “This new funding is significant because it will add to the outcome data that we collected from 2009 to 2013, furthering our understanding of the long-term effect Housing First can have on communities and the lives of those who have experienced homelessness alongside a mental health issue.”
At Home/Chez Soi research found that for every $10 spent on participants, $7 was saved through the reduced use of other shelter, health and justice services. For high service users, $22 was saved for every $10 spent through the reduced use of local services.
This funding follows the Government of Ontario’s announcement in February that it is providing continued supportive housing and services to 240 people living with mental illness who were part of At Home/Chez Soi in Toronto.
ABOUT CANADIAN INSTITUTES OF HEALTH RESEARCH
The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) is the Government of Canada’s health research investment agency. CIHR’s mission is to create new scientific knowledge and to enable its translation into improved health, more effective health services and products, and a strengthened health care system for Canadians. Composed of 13 Institutes, CIHR provides leadership and support to more than 14,100 health researchers and trainees across Canada.
ABOUT THE MENTAL HEALTH COMMISSION OF CANADA
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.
Kyle Marr, Senior Communication Specialist
Mental Health Commission of Canada