The Voice of The Salvation Army in Canada and BermudaView RSS Feed
Mar19ThuCatharine Hume discusses the Vancouver At Home/Chez-Soi Project, a multi-site research demonstration project on Housing First. March 19, 2015
Focusing on Housing First, an emerging strategy to combat homelessness, the Salvation Army's National Advisory Board heard a presentation from Catharine Hume, director of housing and homelessness, Mental Health Commission of Canada, at its January 15, 2015 meeting in Toronto. The National Advisory Board is a group of 12 members who support the Army with strategic guidance on its national operations and services.
- Filed Under:
- Territorial News
Hume's experience with homelessness and Housing First includes coordinating the Vancouver At Home/Chez-Soi Project, a multi-site research demonstration project on Housing First. With 497 participants, the project examined Housing First as a means of ending homelessness for people living with mental illness, with a particular focus on those who also had challenges with substance use.
Hume began her presentation by outlining three principles that guide this strategy: immediacy, choice and harm reduction. Housing First provides immediate access to permanent housing with no readiness requirements, such as sobriety or treatment compliance. The program's primary goal is giving clients safe, secure housing.
The second principle, choice and self-determination, means giving clients options in terms of the housing they end up in and the support they receive. It involves working with clients one-on-one to identify their goals and then helping them to accomplish those goals. Unpacking the barriers that prevent clients from achieving their goals often leads to addressing issues such substance abuse and mental illness.
Speaking about the third principle, Hume emphasized that harm reduction “is where the conversation starts, but it's not where the conversation ends.” Harm reduction is about creating relationships with clients and helping them shift their perspective on what is possible in their lives. When clients have set personal goals, “they begin to see substances as barriers to things they hold dear,” Hume noted.
Though Housing First is still in its “early days,” Hume shared that the research project demonstrated a high success rate: Housing First resulted in stable housing for 87 percent of clients. She also noted that there were no “predictors” of success or failure (such as substance abuse, length of homelessness or type of mental illness) for clients.
Concluding the meeting, Mary Ellen Eberlin, territorial social services secretary, thanked Hume for her enlightening presentation, after which Lt-Colonel Junior Hynes, secretary for program services, closed the meeting with prayer.