HALIFAX REPORT CARD ON HOMELESSNESS 2010 The Second Report Card on Ending Homelessness in HRM
1,718 people were homeless and stayed in a shelter in 2009
The Halifax Report Card on Homelessness documents the current state of homelessness, using indicators that monitor changes in homelessness, housing, and income over time. The goal of the Report Card on Homelessness is to profile homelessness in Halifax and to introduce some of the organizations and programs that are working to reduce the impact of homelessness.
PROGRESS IN ENDING HOMELESSNESS [Jan. â€“ Dec. '09] Compare with last year inside cover. ! HOUSING The average cost for a bachelor apartment increased C! 6.5% to $638.00 !C !
INCOME! Negligible increase in Income Assistance and minimum wage
HOMELESS SHELTER See inside cover
OUR GRADES A= Significant Progress B= Some Progress C= No Progress D= Some Loss E= Significant Loss
For more information on the contents of this report, please contact: Community Action on Homelessness 420.2186 or 420.6026 firstname.lastname@example.org
2009 REPORT INDICATORS
# of individuals who stayed in a shelter
# of times shelter beds were used
Number of single men
Number of single women
Number of youth (16 - 19)
Number of Public Housing Units
Number on the Public Housing wait lists
Number of rent supplements
Rental vacancy rate
Average rent for a bachelor apartment
Average rent for a 1 bedroom apartment
Average rent for a 2 bedroom apartment
Income Assistance. (IA) single person/ month
IA Disability for a single person /mo.
Consumer Price Index Change in HRM
Average monthly # of IA cases
Average length of stay in a shelter
2009 REPORT OVERVIEW Housing and Income Indicators Affordability remains a serious issue as average rents increase with no appreciable increase in affordable housing stock. Income assistance rent allowance for a single person with a disability is $535 while average rent for a bachelor apartment is $638. Small increase in Income Assistance and minimum wage. Singe men comprised the largest number of shelter users with 869 male individuals accessing the shelter system. The average length of stay in shelters was reduced to 19.4 days.
TABLE OF CONTENTS Income, Affordability, Affordable Housing Developments in HRM
Out of the Cold Shelter
Supportive Housing Profiles
Glossary Halifax Agencies That Assist Government Action Needed
Number of families Number of children under 16
20 Sources Homeless Individuals and Families Information System(HIFIS), Department of Community Services (DCS), Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), Statistics Canada, Nova Scotia Labour and Workforce Development
Improvements in Report Card Data Data collected through the Homeless Individuals and Families Information System (HIFIS) includes all data on emergency shelter beds in HRM. This is a dynamic number that fluctuates throughout the year, as the total number of shelter beds available is not static. The 2009 HIFIS data includes information on 40 more beds than were reported in the previous Report Card for 2008. The current number represents 100% of the emergency shelter beds in Halifax. This is a fundamental step towards better understanding the situation and needs of the homeless population in our community.
HOMELESSNESS DEFINED – living on the street – staying overnight in a temporary shelter – staying in places not meant for human habitation – moving continuously among temporary housing options provided by strangers, friends, or family (otherwise known as couch surfing)
WHO IS AT RISK? • Families and individuals can lose their housing for any number of reasons: fleeing abuse, losing a job, or having an income too low to stay in suitable housing. • Some are at risk because of mental illness or substance use problems, or they may lack the life skills or ability to live on their own. • This Report deals with both the homeless and the working poor by reporting on issues that affect both populations. The working poor are most at risk of becoming homeless.
How do the homeless numbers compare? = 100 individuals
total number of seats in the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium
total number of firefighters working in HRM
total number of Haligonians forced from their homes by wildfires in May '09
total number of physicians working in HRM
total number of students at Citadel High School, HRM
total number of homeless 1718 individuals using shelters in HRM NOTE: All figures for 2009, rounded to the nearest 100
REQUIRED INCOME/HR. These are the hourly wages required for current rental prices, based on a single earner working 40 hrs/ wk
Minimum wage $8.60
INCOME ASSISTANCE RATES EXPLAINED PERSONAL ALLOWANCE SHELTER TYPE
DEPENDENT < 18
DEPENDENT 18 - 20
rent; own; board
hospital 30 days +
residential rehab program
RENTAL ALLOWANCE FAMILY SIZE
1 person - disability [or special circumstances]•
•Source: Dept. of Community Services: ESIA policies 5.5
AFFORDABLE HOUSING DEVELOPMENTS IN THE HALIFAX REGIONAL MUNICIPALITY In 2009 only 44 affordable housing units were completed and rented. The breakdown of the funding sources and ownership of these units is as follows: Bilateral Affordable Housing Agreement / Affordable Housing Initiative [Private or Non-Profit Ownership] 24 units Homelessness Partnering Strategy (HPS) [Non-Profit Ownership] 20 units
Since 1999, a total of 352 affordable, self-contained, rental units have been added to HRM’s affordable housing stock.
Source: Dept. of Community Services
According to CMHC's 30% rule - not only those working at minimum wage are struggling to afford accommodations in the Halifax Regional Municipality. TYPE OF WORK
30% OF WAGE
1 BED $710
2 BED $877
customer service clerk
light duty cleaners
human resource manager
automotive service technician
social service worker
√ √ X
3 BED + $1091
Why a 30% threshold? Households have many demands on their income, including providing for basic needs of food, shelter, and clothing. In low income households, that in particular, the more spent on shelter, the less is available for other basic needs. To be a productive and contributing member of society, people also need the financial means to be included in that society. Inclusion means access to social and economic activities and transportation to get there. When low-income households have to make a choice between food and rent, this reduces their ability to participate in the broader society.
LOW INCOME HOUSEHOLDS Low income “cut-offs” (LICOs) refer to the income level below which households spend more than 50 % of their income on food, shelter and clothing. The “cutoffs” are based on household and community size. In 2005, 17,465 households in HRM paid more than 50% of their income on housing.
Is a significant percentage of your income going towards housing? The table above demonstrates a tough reality – people working for more than minimum wage can still find themselves spending more than 30% of gross income on rent. Nova Scotia currently has the third lowest average weekly earnings in the country. The minimum wage rate (adjusted for inflation) is still below what it was in 1977 when it reached its peak. Currently, an individual working 40 hours per week at minimum wage would have to pay 43% of their gross salary for an average bachelor apartment. A Power Point presentation that can be adapted to local community issues is available through Community Action on Homelessness for groups interested in community education on poverty. See details at
'OUT OF THE COLD' SHELTER A warm, safe place to find shelter when all other avenues are closed to you – a reasonable request, certainly on a cold winter’s night. With the closing of Pendleton Place in 2008 one of our most vulnerable sections of society now found themselves with one less option where they could find that warm safe place. The opening of the Out of the Cold Emergency Shelter was a direct, community-led response to this closure. In late 2008, community members and organizations banded together to harness the support of all who were willing to volunteer their time and resources to fill the gap created by Pendleton’s closure. After considerable effort to find a home for the shelter, training volunteers, and collection of required donations, something that many thought was unachievable occurred. A community-based, volunteer-run, emergency winter shelter successfully sheltered 64 men and women with a total of 460 stays over a two-month period during the winter of 2008-2009. This year, the Out of the Cold Emergency Shelter (OOTC) opened in St. Matthew's United Church on November 22, 2009 and will stay open until April 30, 2010. Staffed by volunteers, the shelter is open to guests seven nights a week from 9:00 p.m. until 8:00 a.m. With 15 beds, the shelter has been operating near or at capacity every night, serving over 59 individuals, 29 of whom were youth in December of 2009. Into 2010, the OOTC continues to be at or near capacity on a nightly basis. “I wasn't prepared to see people die on the streets over the winter, so I did whatever I felt I could to prevent that from happening.” Cole Webber, OOTC Volunteer "I wish this shelter didn't exist. I wish our culture had enough compassion to ensure that everyone had a home." Corey Clamp, Out of the Cold Shelter Staff
The philosophy of OOTC is to be a safe space for folks who cannot access other beds in the HRM. Open to men, women, transgendered individuals, youth, couples, and people who do not feel comfortable, have been timed out, or have been banned from other shelters. OOTC provides a much-needed service for many of Halifaxʼs homeless, at-risk, and street-involved individuals.
The Out of the Cold Shelter has 15 beds, and operates out of Saint Matthewʼs Church, 1479 Barrington St., Halifax The shelter opened its doors on November 21st, 2009 and will be open until April 30th, 2010. STATISTICS FROM DECEMBER 09
youth 16 - 24! !
Out of the Cold Shelter c/o Metro Non-profit Housing Assoc. 101-75 Primrose St., Dartmouth, B3A 4C9 phone"" " " email" "
day (902) 225-1142 8pm - 8am 225-0770 halifaxwintershelter@gmail
SUPPORTIVE HOUSING IN HALIFAX When Canadians choose housing, we tend to rely on four values to guide our decision.
Choice Privacy Autonomy and independence Personal control over our environment
Housing that provides residents with these four qualities is considered good for our personal health an well being. Social factors like housing, income, and group identity, are just as important to the prevention of disease as physiological factors. Furthermore, people who live in good housing tend to be healthy and are less likely to get sick. Unfortunately, not everyone has access to the kind of healthy environments that provide these four qualities. People living on very low incomes, and people experiencing mental illness, often have no housing at all, or are forced to accept poor standards they would not ordinarily choose.
housing, on average, spend only one third as much time in hospitals, psychiatric care, prisons and jails as the homeless population.” By connecting people with quality homes where they are surrounded by a supportive community as well as people with similar needs, supportive housing helps people transition off the streets while maintaining their independence and a sense of control over their lives. Supportive housing, by providing a personal physical space, a stable safe environment, and surrounding them with a supportive community, enhances overall housing stability in the lives of residents. This report will show the need for change – for a new recognition and respect for the real needs of individuals – and will link those needs to the broader social and economic benefits of supported housing. What follows in the 2010 Report Card on Homelessness are profiles of diverse supportive housing projects, and the stories of the people who live within them.
Non-profit housing organizations have, as a community, long been saying that we need to make serious commitments to housing as a core human need. Supportive housing in particular has been shown to be a cost-effective and successful way of housing people with mental illness and other barriers to good housing. According to the 2006 study The Cost of Homelessness by Dalhousie University, “substantial broad cost savings of about 40% can be achieved by investing in supportive housing.” This is because “people in supportive 7
PHOENIX YOUTH PROGRAMS intensive assessment process. They must receive a referral and participate in interviews to ensure they are ready.
SAP is one part of a spectrum of housing options Phoenix offers young people aged 16 to 24 years. There is also an emergency shelter with 20 beds and Phoenix House, which offers 10 beds and 24-7 care and supervision for youth who need higher levels of support.
SUPERVISED APARTMENT PROGRAM (SAP) “If I wasnʼt at the Phoenix Supervised Apartment Program (SAP), I donʼt know where Iʼd be living,” ...says Grace-Anne T.
She’s a high school student who left an unsafe home environment after calling Kids Help Phone. Rob Morris, director of the program, says that referrals are common, but the SAP isn’t for everyone. “If people are not at a point to take responsibility for their lives it’s not going to work for them,” he says. Each of SAP’s three buildings (nine units in total) has a live-in helper. Youth are given plenty of independence, meaning that SAP is just for “youth who are starting to get success in their life.” To enter SAP, youth must undergo an 8
“SAP is the last piece before independence,” Morris says. “It offers a high level of freedom, and with that freedom comes responsibility.” Unlike at Phoenix House, there is no curfew for SAP residents, who buy their own groceries. “When you’re on your own, there is no such thing as food donations to your door.” “I just attended a young man’s convocation,” Morris says. “Four years ago he left SAP to take his Bachelor’s of Commerce.” SAP works actively with educational institutions to help residents connect to such opportunities, and access the necessary student loans. That’s the whole idea of SAP; to prepare youth for being completely on their own, people who participate in and give back to their communities. Many SAP residents have jobs, or like Grace-Ann, are full-time students working toward longer-term goals, including community college or university.
SUPPORTIVE HOUSING FOR YOUTH Youth learn to navigate these systems from more experienced advocates. “We’re teaching selfadvocacy,” Morris says, “how to healthily inquire for themselves,” something many youth have not had the opportunity to learn until now. The average SAP resident stays a year, which provides preparation for a lifetime of independence. Some stay longer if they need to – there is no time limit. Success like that is possible because of the supports offered in SAP. Residents receive coaching in life skills, and the live-ins connect youth with the broader community beyond Phoenix. They join groups and become involved as volunteers. “We’re creating citizens,” Morris says. “Folks who were using the system become folks who are giving back.” The live-ins themselves act as role models. Often they come from challenging backgrounds themselves, “the same boat” as Morris puts it. They are often students, and must be active in the community. Two of the three live-ins work relief shifts at Phoenix.
When SAP started in 1992 it was unique in youth services. It filled a major gap between supervised residential living and complete independence. Since that time, agencies in Newfoundland, Cape Breton, New Brunswick, and British Columbia have all modeled programs after SAP. Morris says there is a need for similar models outside of Halifax, throughout the province. Supportive housing for youth is incredibly cost effective, because it supports youth through a difficult transition to independence, prevents any slide back toward the streets, and costs considerably less than shelters. He cautions, however, that supportive housing can’t replace emergency and supervised housing programs. It is part of a spectrum of housing services that can help young people stay off the streets and further their goals in life. As Grace-Anne T puts it, “There is always something better.”
HIGHLIGHTS Phoenix offers 9 units units of Supportive Housing. Client Group? – Youth [16 to 24] who are homeless or at risk of homelessness – Youth at Risk who have a referral from the Department of Community Services Whoʼs involved? St. Paulʼs, Department of Community Services, Publicly Raised Funds
Phoenix Youth Programs 6035 Coburg Road PO Box 60006 RPO Professional Centre Halifax, NS B3H 4R7 phone email
(902) 422-3105 email@example.com www.phoenixyouth.ca
TAWAAK HOUSING “Iʼm re-establishing myself,” John says.
A couple of winters ago, John walked into the Cape Breton forest to die. He spent several nights alone in sub-zero temperatures. He didn’t die, but he did lose his left leg. John remembers lying in a Sydney hospital bed wondering what would become of him. He was offered a house on his reserve, but there were no supports to help him with the depression that drove him into the woods in the first place. A trained first responder, John could see little in the way of job opportunity. And then Ida Vincent showed up. “A social worker I knew had so much faith in John,” Vincent says. “I drove out there to meet him and I saw he had abilities. I thought – this guy will do a lot for himself.” Vincent works at Tawaak Housing, an aboriginal owned and operated non-profit that serves urban aboriginal peoples.
known for leaving his disembodied leg lying around while he tested his arm strength on the stair rails. “It didn’t take long for John to get up and go,” Vincent says. “He’s all over town.” Tawaak helped John find volunteer and then paid work at Palooka’s Boxing Club in Halifax. He’s great with his hands and his head. “My application is in to be the Super,” John says. He moved out of Tawaak and into independent living in September. But because Tawaak is like a family he stays active there, doing everything from sorting garbage to offering peer counseling for other aboriginal people in the city. “That’s really important for our community,” Vincent says, “better than a therapist.” John also counsels in-patients who have recently lost limbs.
John was a perfect candidate for one of Tawaak’s 12 supportive housing units, except for that missing leg. “None of our units were set up for a person with a disability,” Vincent says, “but if I had to carry John up and down the stairs myself I would have. I grew up with about 10 people in wheelchairs.” She took John back to Halifax and helped him access services that weren’t available in Cape Breton, including the food bank, physical therapy to learn to walk on a new prosthetic leg, and Point Pleasant Lodge, where he could stay while he recovered. “The first time I got up from my wheelchair, that first step,” John recalls, “I cried. I had to sit back down.”
Eleven weeks later, John moved to Tawaak House which hooked him up with appliances, furniture and other necessities. He quickly became well
The current wait list for Tawaak Housing's supportive housing units.
Since 1981 Tawaak has been operating 57 properties with 145 units and two buildings (12 units) that are designated specifically for supportive housing which assists people from their transition from homelessness to independent living and self reliance.
ABORIGINAL OWNED & OPERATED “We just need more support services for aboriginal peoples,” Vincent says. She canʼt do it all alone.
To help someone coming off a reserve and into an urban community, cultural understanding is everything. But Ida Vincent is the only person working full-time to connect aboriginal people with stable housing and the services they need. She does it all – connecting people to health services, helping them apply for SIN cards and birth certificates, and apply for income assistance or employment. Her efforts don’t always succeed, and the story of John’s friend Basil shows why more funding is needed for supportive housing staff, particularly for aboriginal people and people with disabilities. “Basil lived in a hotel room and he told me he was sick of that place,” John says. Basil was put up there by the Department of Community Services, and Vincent thinks he was forgotten. “He never saw a worker,” she says. She invited the Mobile Outreach Street Health (MOSH) service to see Basil, who lost both legs
“We are helping the homeless off the street and into a safe, secure environment by providing supportive housing that bridges the gap between homelessness and the transition to self-reliance and independent living.” Ida Vincent, Tawaak Housing Staff
to diabetes. She personally washed his clothes for him, and contacted his DCS social worker. She offered a ground-floor unit to Basil that was accessible without a ramp. It just needed minor modifications to make the bathroom accessible for Basil. “The social worker said no,” Vincent says. “They were looking at putting him in a home in Windsor. Native people don’t thrive in homes with no other native people.” Sadly, Basil died alone in his hotel room over the Christmas holidays. “I loved him,” John says. “We exchanged laughter and stories in our native tongue, watched movies and hockey.” Tawaak Housing 6175 Lady Hammond Road Halifax, NS B3K 2R9 phone (902) 455-2900 email firstname.lastname@example.org 11
AFFIRMATIVE HOUSE “Since moving to Affirmative House, I have been able to face that fear and put it behind me,” says Roy Muise.
"That fear" is homelessness. Roy has been there before, a few times, and doesn’t want to go back. Like everyone in this ten-unit apartment building in Dartmouth, which opened in September 2007, Roy is recovering from mental illness and works in the community. “I was diagnosed in the 1970’s and have struggled with it ever since,” Roy explains. “The 1990’s were when I struggled the most, with many hospitalizations---two or more a year---and finally leaving the workplace in 1997. Over the years, I have learned many coping skills on how to live with my illness and in 2001 returned to work. Even after returning to work, I had this great fear of becoming so ill that I would have to go on disability again. I had lost everything I owned twice in my life and was terrified of that happening again. I continued to live in rooming houses knowing that if I ever became unable to work again at least I wouldn’t become homeless.” Affirmative House does what regular rooming houses can’t: it provides the programming Roy needs to support himself, like the Tenant Savings Plan. Each tenant at Affirmative House makes a monthly voluntary contribution.
• • • • • 12
8 one-bedroom units 2 two-bedroom units common room owned by Affirmative Industries professional property management
The Department of Community Services chips in its share, as does Affirmative Industries, which owns Affirmative House. The company has been helping people with disabilities build economic independence in Nova Scotia since 1991. It runs two successful social enterprises, Petstuff on the Go in Dartmouth and The Neighbourhood Dollar Store in Halifax, both of which provide competitive employment to mental health consumers in the community. At Affirmative House, tenants develop savings plans tailored to their own needs and means. The money is accessible after five years of contributions to ensure long-term sustainability and independence. “I now have a wonderful apartment and would still be able to afford living there even if unable to work,” explains Roy. “This has increased my self-esteem and has definitely improved my health. I am no longer ashamed to have people come visit me.”
AFFIRMATIVE HOUSE WORKS Affirmative House relies on the resilience of its tenants and support from the broad community. The land for the project was donated by Halifax Regional Municipality. Ninety percent of the money was given by the Affordable Housing Program (a joint program of NS Community Services and Canadian Mortgage & Housing) and Service Canada. The rest of the cash was raised in a capital campaign that was strongly supported by the private sector. More importantly, it works because its designers listened closely to the local community and mental health consumers who were able to design a program that meets their need for a balance between support and independence. One means of achieving this balance is the tenant’s association, which meets regularly and is actively involved with professional property management. The association gives tenants control of their fates, and allows them to support each other in the process. The tenants have even started a garden project called the Garden of Hope. “Working together through our tenants association, and with the Garden of Hope project, we have developed skills and abilities that we might not have done without the program,” Roy says. “It has been great living with a group of my peers. We are all in different places in our personal recovery journeys and I can see how far I have come, but at the same time learn new coping skills from others living with mental illness. I have watched my neighbors grow and flourish and know that I have played a small part in that.” Affirmative Industries looks forward to working with the Nova Scotia Co-operative Council, Province of Nova Scotia and others in the expansion of this important housing model.
DEVELOPMENT PROCESS • Land for the project was donated by Halifax Regional Municipality • 90% of funding was provided by the Affordable Housing Program (joint NS Community Services/CMHC program) and former SCPI program (Service Canada) • 10% of project funding was raised through a capital campaign, with strong participation from the private sector. • The participatory planning model involved mental health consumers and local community • A tenantʼs association meets regularly and is actively involved with professional property management. Affirmative Industries P.O. Box 1004, Dartmouth NS B2Y 3Z9 phone 902-452-3172 email email@example.com www.affirmativeindustries.ca
ADSUM COURT People with housing often wonder, “How do homeless people end up on the streets?” In reality, the story of every homeless person is unique. Some grow up in unsafe homes and move out at a young age to survive. Some get sick and can’t support themselves; some suffer addictions that sever their ties to family and friends. Trudy Cox was put out by her mother when she was 16 and lived in foster care until she was too old for the system. She moved from Newfoundland to Nova Scotia in search of a new life, and wound up at Adsum House, a safe shelter for women and children in Halifax. Cox stayed there off and on for the next 20 years while she struggled with an addiction. Cox battles her addiction to this day. She has been kicked out of shelters and isolated from her family, including her now 18-year-old daughter. “My goal is to overcome my addiction and to reunite with my family,” Cox says. “I want to be part of my daughter’s life.” This time, she has been clean for seven months, all while living at Adsum Court. Adsum has 24 apartments for single women. Rent is geared to income; everyone pays 30% of gross income (or whatever income assistance allows) to cover rent, heat and utilities. Adsum provides supports on site and tenants can use services at Adsum’s other locations in HRM.
Adsum Court • 23 apartments for single women • rent geared to income maximum of 30% • on-site programming, advocacy, referrals & supportive counseling
Jill Cooke is the client support officer at Adsum Court. Her job is to help the tenants connect with the therapeutic and recreational services they need to stay off the streets. She advocates for the women with the Department of Community Services and in “whatever challenges come up”; job applications, relationships with parole and police officers, connections to addictions counselors, nurses and social workers. Cooke provides friendly reminders about rent and other responsibilities, and helps with day-to-day living. In short, Cooke and other Adsum staff are there as non-judgmental, trusted allies who keep women from falling through the cracks. If they are not supported to navigate the system and advocate for themselves, people won’t take them seriously.
“I do programs with Jill,” Cox says, “activities, visits to the art gallery, bingo, go for walks, play games and just talk.” Cox has connected with a social worker at Adsum and other service providers offering support including; a psychotherapist at the North End Clinic, and Stepping Stone, which does harm reduction work with sex workers. “I used to work the streets,” Cox says, and for that she was put behind bars. “I’ve been out of jail almost three years.” Stepping Stone is helping with that transition. Cooke has also supported Cox find work at Our Times Café, a supportive employer in Dartmouth. Our Times has given Cox a leave of absence to work on her addiction; her job awaits her when she’s ready. The supports are essential, and so is the stability of having an address. “It links people to the community,” Cooke says. It also gives the women a chance to learn how to live independently and responsibly, having signed a standard lease. Like other supportive housing programs, Adsum Court asks tenants to pay rent, and to maintain a safe, nontriggering community for everyone living there. It also offers a high level of flexibility. “We know they’ll (tenants) make mistakes,” Cooke says. “They don’t fit into what a normal landlord would want.” Many women stay about two years; others have been living there for 10 and even 15 years.
OTHER PROGRAMS AND SERVICES
16-bed Emergency Shelter 24-hour Crisis Line – 423-4443
ADSUM CENTRE Communal living for 16 women and their children. Adsum for Women & Children offers a continuum of services for women and their children, and for female youth who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Programs and services are funded by a broad range of community actors, including individual and corporate donors, foundations, faith-based and community groups, and government.
“It’s a matter of putting all the pieces together to keep people in housing and healthy, not on the street or in jail,” Cooke says. Trudy Cox is getting there. “I’m feeling better,” she says. “This helps me build my self esteem and confidence.”
Adsum for Women & Children 2421 Brunswick Street Halifax, NS B3K 2Z9 phone (902) 423-5049 email firstname.lastname@example.org www. adsumforwomen.org 15
CAPITAL DISTRICT HEALTH & KILLAM PROPERTIES 250 HOMES INITIATIVE From the start, this program has been a success with 33 placements with Killam Properties and 16 with Atlantic LIving Property Management. Former and existing patients of the provincial Mental Health system are being offered tenancy in reasonably priced, very well-appointed apartments. Apartments like these aren’t normally available to this group of renters based on their financial means and rental history. “It’s about finding people places to live, but it’s also about teaching people how to be good tenants,” says Sandra Hennigar. She’s the special projects lead for Capital Health’s mental health program. “People need support in order to live well.” The program has immediate credibility given that 1 in 5 Canadians live with some form of mental illness. Landlords are already renting to many tenants who have been, or likely will be, part of the mental health system. “We saw it as a good fit – they had people and we had apartments,” says Ruth Bukly-McIntosh, VP of Property Management at Killam. “Faces brighten up when they see the unit, and what their $535. is getting them,” adds Tara Hood, a Property Manager with Killam. She insists that the most significant reason for the success of the program is that Capital Health has a dedicated staff person for tenancy issues. Liz Cleary, a Registered Nurse by training, is the program co-ordinator. Most important for landlords, Cleary is the point-person and sole contact if they have an issue with a tenant. 16
“It’s very important for landlords to have one source if they have an issue,” Cleary explains, noting that “an issue” could range from noise to the need for eviction. The program has been almost incident-free (only one noise violation leading to an eviction) largely because Cleary works closely with tenants to make their apartment life enjoyable and productive. She sits down with each and every potential tenant, explains the terms of tenancy and actively encourages new residents to manage their own affairs. “It’s about holding people accountable,” explains Cleary, whose role is supported by an on-call mental health support team which includes a Mobile Crisis unit that will conduct “wellness checks” should a pressing or violent situation arise. This hands-on approach attracted Atlantic Living Property Management to the program in May of 2009. “They approached us as a rental manager with middle-income units,” explains Tracey MacDonald, a property manager at Atlantic Living. “I wasn’t afraid of getting involved because I knew the support was there.” The point at which the program becomes downright ingenious is where the tenants come in. Far from being a risk, they have proven to be some of the landlords’ best tenants.
Community-based agency staff members, leading academic researchers, and people experiencing various barriers to living independently in the community agree: Supportive housing is essential because we must have a wide variety of housing programs to meet the clear need for services and to better serve the community.
The programs we profiled respond to this need for diverse populations using diverse tactics. This work would not be possible without the tremendous efforts from the non-profit community. Community based agencies work hard to provide services for individuals with multiple and complex barriers to living independently. We are seeking to provide the supports that are needed to help people maintain stable housing and achieve, over time, an improved quality of life – as defined by the individuals involved, not the organizations or broader community. We must continue to advocate for sustainable funding for these much needed housing options. Despite the challenges, our community has made tremendous gains developing and maintaining supportive housing. However, as emergency shelters operate at or near full capacity, we must continue to expand on the supportive housing services and stock. This expansion requires collaboration among all sectors: government, nonprofit, public, and the communities and neighborhoods where we live.
Supportive housing must be recognized as a necessary community service. Diligent efforts are required to support, sustain, and develop enough quality housing and supports for the people who need them.
RECOMMENDATIONS Establish a comprehensive supportive housing policy with justification, rationale and guidance for decision-makers, determining how to spend affordable housing dollars and how departments and programs can pool resources to mosteffectively meet support needs. Develop programs to help non-profit housing organizations purchase existing buildings at affordable rates. Such a program would allow organizations to provide affordable long-term housing for people living on very low incomes, particularly people living on income assistance programs. Ensure capital investments are made in improving and expanding transitional and supportive housing units. Ensure sustained support services with non-profit housing agencies, so that existing supportive housing can best serve its clientele. 17
FOR YOUR REFERENCE SOURCES AND ACRONYMS ESIA Employment Support Income Assistance CMHC Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation CPP Canada Pension Plan DCS Department of Community Services GIS Guaranteed Income Supplement HIFIS Homeless Individuals and Families Information System HPS The Homelessness Partnering Strategy HRM Halifax Regional Municipality IA Income Assistance Nova Scotia Department of Finance Nova Scotia Department of Labour & Workforce Development OAS Old Age Security Statistics Canada Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) enhances Canada's housing finance options, assist Canadians who cannot afford housing in the private market, improve building standards and housing construction, and provides policy makers with the information and analysis they need to sustain a vibrant housing market in Canada.
Homeless Individuals and Families Information System (HIFIS) provides shelters and service providers with data entry and analysis software, training, and support, which enhances operational capacity. This tool allows communities to collect and analyze data on homelessness and shelter users in Canada that is of vital local and national significance.
The Homelessness Partnering Strategy (HPS) is a Government of Canada program that encourages communities to work with all levels of government, the notfor-profit sector and the private sectors to move beyond immediate and emergency needs to address the more longterm issues facing people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. The HPS places greater emphasis on measures to prevent and reduce homelessness, and more focus on the construction and renovation of transitional and supportive housing with related services.
DEFINITIONS Absolute homelessness – the absolute homeless are those who live on the street, in temporary shelters, or in locations not intended for human habitation. This group may also include those who must move continuously among temporary housing arrangements provided by strangers, friends or family. The absolute homeless have no home to return to.
Affordable housing – A. dwellings costing less than 30% of before-tax household income. Costs include [for renters]: rent and any payments for electricity, fuel, water, and other municipal services; [for owners] mortgage payments (principal and interest), property taxes and/or any condominium fees, along with payments for electricity, fuel, water, and other municipal services. B. public housing intended for low-income people and/or people with disabilities, or specific groups who cannot afford to rent a place to live at market prices. Continuum of supports approach – builds on existing programs and work already underway within communities to facilitate the coordination of services, which could include but is not limited to prevention and outreach, shelters and housing, support services, health care, and skills development. Chronically living on the street – a sub-population within the 'absolute homelessness' population. The term refers to those individuals or families who, because of a lack of secured housing, live on the street for a predominant period of time over the course of a year(s). These individuals or families might access some services from time to time, but will use available sheltering facilities only in exceptional circumstances (e.g. a very cold night). Emergency shelter – facility providing temporary and shortterm accommodation (from a few days up to six months) to homeless individuals or families who would otherwise sleep on the street. Typically, these facilities provide single or shared bedrooms or dormitory-type sleeping arrangements. Harm reduction – aims to prevent or reduce negative consequences of potentially dangerous lifestyles choices. Housing First – aims to provide immediate access to stable housing and the income and supports needed to keep it, prior to addressing other lifestyle issues. Median Value – for any distribution the median value (age, income, duration) is that value which divides the total into two equal parts. Supported housing – allows individuals to live independently with access to support that is not tied to any particular housing location. Supportive housing – A. long-term or permanent accommodation for people who cannot achieve or maintain housing stability independently and who require long-term or permanent services to help them maintain an appropriate level of safety and stability, while moving toward greater independence and quality of life. B. safe, affordable housing for individuals and families that includes supports and services integrated into the housing, and no length-of-stay duration. Transitional housing – temporary or interim accommodation that is combined with case-managed support services aimed at helping these individuals to transition to long-term and permanent housing, self-sufficiency and independence. Transitional housing programs normally range from weeks in duration up to three years.
EMERGENCY Police/Fire/Ambulance 911 Mobile Crisis Intervention Services 429-8167 Youth Help Line (24-hour) 420-8336 Kids Help Phone (24-hour) 1-800-668-6868 Parent Help Line (24-hour) 1-888-603-9100 Avalon Sexual Assault Response Line (24-hour) 422-4240 (after hours) 425-0122 SHELTERS Adsum House – women and their children 2421 Brunswick Street, Halifax 429-4443 /423-4443 Barry House – women and their children 1050 Wellington Street, Halifax 422-8324
The second Halifax Report Card on Homelessness is produced by The Community Action on Homelessness Report Card Working Group. This group includes concerned individuals, first voice, non-profit leaders, and all levels of government who are committed to preventing and reducing homelessness in Halifax. We would especially like to thank the following agencies for their continued support: Adsum for Women and Children Affirmative Industries Astra Zeneca Brunswick Street Mission
Bryony House – abused women and their children Address Confidential 422-7650
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
Metro Turning Point – men 2170 Barrington Street, Halifax 420-3282
Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives NS
Phoenix Youth Shelter – (16 - 24 yrs) 1094 Tower Road, Halifax 446-4663
Capital District Youth Navigator Program Capital District Health Authority Dalhousie University Direction 180 Department of Health Department of Community Services
Salvation Army – men 2044 Gottingen Street, Halifax 422-2363
Frontline Health, Roger Lemoyne (photos - cover and page 10)
COMMUNITY SERVICES - INCOME ASSISTANCE
Homeless Individuals and Families Information System (HIFIS) [Nova Scotia]
Halifax 424-4150 Dartmouth 424-1600 Metro Regional Housing Authority 420-6000
Halifax Regional Municipality
Killam Properties Metro Non-profit Housing Association
DROP-IN CENTRES AND SOUP KITCHENS
North End Community Health Centre
Brunswick Street United Church 2107 Brunswick Street, Halifax 423-4605 Hope Cottage 2435 Brunswick Street 429-7968
Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women Phoenix Youth Programs Tawaak Housing
Transition House Association of Nova Scotia
Halifax Housing Help 423-0722 Supportive Community Outreach Team (SCOT) 429-8167 Mobile Outreach Street Health (MOSH) 429-5290 Marguerite Centre – addiction recovery (women) 876-0006
United Way Halifax
As well, we would like to acknowledge the volunteers who contributed their time and expertise to this process by serving on the Report Card Working Group and SubCommittees.
"Homelessness is not a complex issue...we know what the solutions are... adequate housing, adequate income, and adequate support services." David Hulchanski, Professor of Housing & Community Development, University of Toronto
WHY HASN'T HOMELESSNESS ENDED YET? Community Action on Homelessness responds… WE NEED TO COMMIT TO POLICIES THAT WORK! ...at the Federal level 1. Create a National Housing Strategy that clearly defines direct federal responsibility for funding affordable housing, supportive housing, and supported housing. 2. Put in place long-term and sustained funding to support our community’s capacity to end homelessness. 3. Significantly increase the rates of and access to federal income support programs: Employment Insurance, Canadian Pension Plan, Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement. ...at the Provincial level 1. Increase the amount of provincial funding for affordable housing, supportive housing, and supported housing. 2. Increase mental health and addictions services to meet the current need for services. 3. Increase Income Assistance and Income Assistance Disability Support Program benefits, tying the rates to actual average rents in the community. 4. Increase the minimum wage to a living wage. 5. Develop a 'poverty reduction strategy' that includes affordable housing. ...at the Municipal level 1. Ensure policies are aligned with Federal & Provincial levels of government and be willing to partner 2. Commit resources to support community non-profit housing projects. For example, support to non-profit housing providers through project grants, tax and fee exemptions, land donations. 3. Fast track affordable housing applications.
YOU CAN HELP! WELCOME all types of housing in your neighborhood – affordable, supportive, and supported housing. CONTACT your MP, MLA, and City Councillor about what needs to be done – phone, email, send them letters! CONTINUE your generous donations of time, skills, energy, or money. VISIT us at www.cahhalifax.org for more information on homelessness in Halifax, and for other ways to help.
Canada is the only major country in the world without a National Housing Strategy – Wellesley Institute, Toronto MINISTERS RESPONSIBLE FOR HOUSING: Prime Minister's Office F 613-941-6900 email@example.com
Diane Finley, Minister HRSDC T 613-996-4974 F 613-996-9749 FinleD@parl.gc.ca
Denise Peterson-Rafuse, Minister NS Dept. of Community Services T 902-424-4304 F 902-428-0618 firstname.lastname@example.org