At Home/Chez Soi program achieving real results, say Canada’s mental health leaders

MONCTON - New research findings were released today in Moncton by the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) that underscore the clear effectiveness of the Housing First approach to ending homelessness amongst people with mental illness who live in small cities and rural areas.

“The universal success of Housing First across all At Home/Chez Soi sites is telling us that we’ve hit on a winning strategy for addressing homelessness for people with mental illness,” Louise Bradley, President and CEO of the MHCC. “In particular, the research from the Moncton site shows that it works for small city and rural communities, where homelessness may look differently than it does in a large city. Bold solutions like this are the hallmark of our mandate."

At Home/Chez Soi was created in 2008 thanks to a $110 million investment from the Government of Canada. Demonstration sites included Moncton, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Toronto, and Montréal, and the study followed more than 2,000 Canadians with mental illness experiencing homelessness. 201 participants were followed at the Moncton site.

“Our Government is proud to make the investments necessary for truly innovative projects like At Home/Chez Soi, the largest study of its kind in the world. Thanks to this research, we know that Housing First rapidly ends homelessness while also being a sound financial investment that can lead to significant cost savings,” said Candice Bergen, Minister of State for Social Development.

The Government of New Brunswick will continue to support Housing First initiatives with an investment of $1.33 million in services including ongoing rental assistance to individuals who participated in the At Home project, and the development of the Flexible Assertive Community Treatment (FACT) team in the Moncton area. The FACT team will provide community interventions and support to persons with serious mental illnesses, including those involved in the Housing First initiative.

“The positive results released today are an excellent example of cooperation within the provincial government, and how collaboratively, we can support important initiatives such as the At Home/Chez Soi Moncton project,” said Premier David Alward. “By all partners working together to achieve success, we can help end homelessness among people living with mental illness in New Brunswick.”

 Key findings from the study include:

  • Demonstrated housing stability for program participants over a two-year period
  • Program effectiveness for people from a small city and a rural region
  • A Peer Supportive Housing Program, developed in Moncton for people from Moncton, may improve outcomes for people with additional needs

At least 200,000 Canadians experience homelessness annually, with 30,000 Canadians homeless on any given night. The issue of homelessness costs the Canadian economy $7 billion each year. It is estimated that more than 700 individuals were homeless and stayed in shelters in Moncton in 2011.

“The Housing First approach is a welcome addition to our community. Moncton participants in this study reported many positive outcomes such as returning to school, managing a personal budget, and decreasing illegal substance use. Additionally, for every $10 spent, a savings of $7.75 in health, justice, and social services was achieved,” said Robert Goguen, Member of Parliament for Moncton-Riverview-Dieppe.

The At Home/Chez Soi Moncton site findings can be found here. To support communities in New Brunswick and across the country interested in implementing Housing First, the lessons learned from At Home/Chez Soi and other Canadian Housing First programs have now been incorporated into a toolkit to guide the planning and implementation of effective Housing First programs in Canada. The web-based Housing First toolkit will be available in June 2014 on both the Mental Health Commission of Canada and the Homeless Hub websites.

The Mental Health Commission of Canada is a catalyst for change. We are collaborating with hundreds of partners to change the attitudes of Canadians toward mental health problems and to improve services and support. Our goal is to help people who live with mental health problems and illnesses lead meaningful and productive lives. Together we create change. The Mental Health Commission of Canada is funded by Health Canada.

Media Contact:
Patti Robson, Director, Public Affairs
Mental Health Commission of Canada
Mobile: 1-613-282-1573

Media Contact:
Jesse Robichaud, Communications
Office of the Premier

Sign up for the MHCC Newsletter

The views represented herein solely represent the views of the Mental Health Commission of Canada.
Production of this document is made possible through a financial contribution from Health Canada.