Long-Term Solutions for Homelessness
What Are Long-Term Solutions?
Raising the Roof is committed to finding long-term solutions to homelessness. To accomplish this goal, we focus our efforts on three distinct approaches: Prevention, Systems Response, and Early Intervention.
Prevention minimizes entry into homelessness and reduces the amount of time individuals spend homeless. Homelessness prevention consists of three intersecting principles: Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Prevention.
- Primary Prevention is an “upstream” approach that targets groups who are at risk of becoming homeless due to factors such as abuse, addiction, and unemployment. This model minimizes entry into homelessness by offering targeted awareness campaigns and support.
- Secondary Prevention addresses the early stages of homelessness by helping people retain their housing or find new accommodations. This is generally done through mediation with landlords and families.
- Tertiary Prevention prevents recurring homelessness by offering ongoing support once housing has been established.
A Systems Response to homelessness aims to streamline services, providing families with joint access to all necessary supports (employment services, mental health and addictions care, housing support, etc.). Working collaboratively allows organizations to share information, provide consistent care, and minimize duplication of services. A Systems Response provides a “No Wrong Door” approach, meaning individuals and families can access all services regardless of where they enter the system. This leads to an increased sense of stability and greater opportunities for community participation, training, and education.
A Systems Response involves two types of integration:
- Vertical Integration: A centralized approach in which departments within an organization coordinate processes to ensure seamless delivery of care.
- Horizontal Integration: A centralized approach between organizations that can occur at many levels. Horizontal Integration typically requires a top-down meets bottom-up approach.
Housing First as Early Intervention
Housing First is a rights-based, recovery-oriented approach that focuses on getting people into housing as quickly as possible. Under this model, support services are introduced after the individual is housed, thus preventing further episodes of homelessness.
Unlike other re-housing methods, Housing First does not require participants to meet certain behavioral or treatment expectations. It is rooted in the philosophy that housing is a right and a precondition for recovery. Studies show that having a home can bring substantial benefits by providing stability and helping to develop self-worth.
The concept of Housing First originated in the 1970’s with the development of programs like Pathways to Housing in New York, which focused on re-housing people with severe mental health and addictions issues. In 2009, the Mental Health Commission of Canada introduced the At Home/Chez Soi initiative, the first step in solidifying Housing First as an approach to homelessness in Canada. This five-year pilot project evaluated the effectiveness of Housing First in four cities: Toronto, Montreal, Moncton, and Vancouver. The results have been overwhelmingly positive: Housing First has been effective in maintaining housing for adults with mental illness and substance abuse issues.