Funding announced for housing program

  • Jun. 18, 2014 4:24 p.m.

More money has been announced for a housing program in the City.

MP Earl Dreeshen announced last week that the federal government will be investing more than $2 million in funding to the City of Red Deer as it implements Housing First, an evidence-based approach to end homelessness.

Dreeshen made the announcement last Friday on behalf of the Honourable Candice Bergen, minister of State (Social Development) during a press conference at City Hall.

“We are pleased to partner with the City of Red Deer to implement Housing First,” said Dreeshen.

“Through this new 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.”

Housing First is the cornerstone of the government’s renewed Homelessness Partnering Strategy (HPS), he added. 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. The end goal is ensuring these individuals become self-sufficient, fully participating members of society.

Since the launch of the HPS in April 2007, nearly 25,000 Canadians who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless have benefitted from education and training opportunities. More than 27,000 have received help to find work and more than 4,800 new shelter beds have been created.

The City is receiving this funding over five years to support projects in the community that prevent and reduce homelessness, including projects that address the needs of the Aboriginal homeless population.

“Preventing and reducing homelessness in our community is a priority for the City of Red Deer, but we cannot do it alone,” said Mayor Tara Veer. “It is thanks to funding like this and a continued commitment at all orders of government – local, provincial and national – that we are able to continue supporting the community in its endeavor to end homelessness through systemic changes in policies, procedures, partnerships and processes.”

The Housing First approach came into effect on April 1st 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.

On April 8th, 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.

“The government’s renewal of the Homelessness Partnering Strategy with a shift to Housing First is great news,” said Louise Bradley, president and CEO of the Mental Health Commission of Canada. “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.”

Over the course of the MHCC study, an average of 73% of participants in the Housing First group remained in stable housing, compared to 32% 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 that were the highest users of emergency and social services, every $10 invested led to an average savings to government of $21.72.

– Swan