On November 22, CMHA Ottawa joins communities and organizations across the country to mark National Housing Day and recognize the challenges faced by many people in finding a place to call home.
National Housing Day calls on the need for safe and affordable housing for all Canadians. Across the country, 1.7 million people are in need of housing and at least 235,000 people experience homelessness each year.
In November 2017, the federal government announced a 10-year, $40-billion National Housing Strategy to help reduce homelessness and improve the availability and quality of housing for Canadians in need.
CMHA recognizes housing as a key social determinant of physical and mental well-being. Particularly, supportive housing is crucial to recovery for many people living with mental health or addictions issues. Evidence indicates that having a place to call home means a better quality of life and success in education and work. Housing with appropriate supports is shown to improve outcomes from even severe mental health and addictions problems.
In partnership with other stakeholders, CMHA continues its efforts to promote the need for housing in general and supportive housing in particular for people with lived experience of mental illness.
CMHAs have called for increased investments in housing, as well as the need to reduce barriers to housing as one way to reduce the overall costs to health care, police and justice, and social services sectors.
CMHA Ottawa is fortunate to have a unique scatted-site condo housing program offering affordable housing with supports to 36 individuals. Recent investment from government is permitting a small expansion with 8 more units for this program, but the supply of affordable housing in Ottawa remains woefully lacking. CMHA administers government funded rent supplements for approximately 450 people with lived experience of mental illness, a program crucial to accessing and keeping private market apartments for people with fixed and low incomes.
CMHA Ottawa has Intensive Case Management Services, Hospital Outreach Services, Court Outreach Services, Youth Outreach Services, Shelter Specific Outreach Services all of which provide Client Directed Strength Based Intensive Case Management Supports. Working within an integrated multidisciplinary team clients have access to Addiction Treatment Groups for Concurrent Disorders, Dialectical Behavior Therapy Groups, Nursing and Psychiatric supports etc. without barrier. One client, one plan, one team allows us to better support clients. Using the Strength Based Case Management approach allows us to work with individuals recognizing their strengths while at the same time focussing on accessing naturally occurring resources in the community where they may find support when no longer receiving services through CMHA (their/our community). Housing with supports is a central component of Housing first but the harsh reality is that there is simply not enough of either to meet the needs of Ottawa.
Click here to learn more about the importance of housing for mental health.