In Canada, our current response relies heavily upon shelters for emergency housing and emergency and crisis services for health care. Typically, individuals who are homeless must first participate in treatment and attain a period of sobriety before they are offered housing. This is a costly and ineffective way of responding to the problem. Alternatively, Housing First (HF) is an evidence-based intervention model, originating in New York City (Pathways to Housing), that involves the immediate provision of permanent housing and wrap-around supports to individuals who are homeless and living with serious mental illness, rather than traditional “treatment then housing” approaches. HF has been shown to improve residential stability and other outcomes. Given the difference in social policy and health care delivery between the U.S. and Canada, it is vital that evidence about homelessness interventions be grounded in the Canadian context.

For more information, view the Full Report and the Main Messages documents.

Published by: Mental Health Commission of Canada,

Publication Date: 2014

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