Permanent supportive housing plays a vital role in providing long-term stability for individuals with moderate to high support needs. This project focused on investigating several key aspects of permanent supportive housing, which include:
- operating without dedicated funding streams
- recognizing the significance of in-home supports during the transition from homelessness
- integrating supportive housing services into broader support networks
- examining the interaction between supportive housing buildings and their residents within the local community
These findings shed light on the importance and effectiveness of permanent supportive housing as a sustainable solution for individuals in need of stable housing and comprehensive support.
3 Key Findings
Permanent supportive housing is highly effective due to the presence of on-site resources that are readily accessible to residents.
One common challenge faced by housing programs is the lack of operating funds necessary to support staff and maintain essential services.
Affordable rents, on-site supports and robust community integration play pivotal roles in promoting housing stability for individuals.
Project scope and expected outcomes
Supports are key to making supportive housing work
This project explored housing practices that help vulnerable populations. It examined Woodfield Gate, a development that blends health supports with affordable housing. It documented the positive effects that integrated supportive housing can have on both residents and the community.
Phase 1 highlighted:
- the importance of easily accessible supports
- the need for affordability
- the opportunity to build a community
It also noted ongoing challenges with resident conflicts and the fact that even affordable supportive housing may be unaffordable for those with low government incomes.
Phase 2 focused on the journeys of residents who had experienced long-term housing instability and finally found stability in permanent supportive housing. They expressed a sense of ownership over their units and appreciated having the right supports available on-site.
Phase 3 analyzed health and social outcomes. It revealed that supportive housing residents had fewer health needs and were more engaged in community activities. It also emphasized the significance of creating a non-judgmental environment on-site, where staff connect residents with various programs offered by other organizations.
These outcomes exceeded expectations, considering most participants had experienced housing insecurity for many years or even their entire lives. They came to Woodfield Gate due to high support needs related to major mental illnesses and substance use disorders. The study clearly showed a reduction in service use across all areas.
Practical recommendations based on the research findings
The research showed how fundamental the permanent supportive housing model is in helping Canada’s most vulnerable find and keep housing. While it takes work to find the resources for on-site supports, these supports are essential.
The researchers recommended that both provincial governments and the National Housing Strategy expand the permanent supportive housing model to successfully build supportive housing in Canada:
- Increase social assistance rates to improve affordability.
- Provide higher and more consistent provincial funding for community/social housing and affordable housing sites to maintain on-site supports.
- Consider separating loan funding for market-rent housing developments as a distinct economic development strategy, ensuring all National Housing Strategy funds support affordability.
- Establish a dedicated supportive housing stream to provide operating funding at the beginning of a development for organizations housing Canada's most vulnerable individuals.
Activity Stream: Program of Research
Title of the Research: Making permanent supportive housing work
Lead Applicant: Indwell Community Homes
Project Collaborators / Partners:
- Western University
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