Leaving the Solution Behind

by kevingemme on April 24, 2014 - 3:49pm

It seemed like a “housing first” approach was the solution to end homelessness once and for all. However, the city of Montreal seems to disagree. In fact, according to an article that appeared in the Gazette last month written by Charlie Fidelman, the Montreal Health and Social Services Agency have decided to not go on with a “housing first” model, stating that it is “not their mandate”. It was determined that “the usual services are not flexible enough to accommodate the needs of the many homeless with mental health problems, to anticipate crisis and prevent them”. The “housing first” model was used for the first time in Canada when the federal government created a program known as Chez Soi/At Home. This project was meant to determine the effectiveness of the particular model, as several studies had shown that the best way to end homelessness was through offering permanent affordable housing to the homeless. The program had shown a lot of potential for solving this issue during the first five years. However, since the program was taken over by the Agency, the number of itinerants participating in the program dropped from 180 to 130, which is a big reason why they have decided to drop the “housing first” model. However, because the program had shown so much potential in solving this issue, many people are floored about the decision that was made. The Agency has declared that those that are already in the program “will continue to get housing and health services”, but that they would not offer these to itinerants anymore.

In my opinion, this is very bad news for the cause of homelessness. Many research have proven that providing housing to the homeless is the best solution if we ever want to end homelessness once and for all, so this is big step back. What is unfortunate is that the motives for this decision seem to be economic as the Agency affirm not having enough resources to maintain this program. Hopefully the federal government can swoop in once again and restore this program in the near future.

About the author