Ottawa Symposium on Housing First and Homelessness Prevention
From Vision to Reality: Exploring the Housing First Program and Government Policy Frameworks that Support It
Homelessness has challenged society for countless generations. In Canada, many agencies, governments, and citizens have committed their time and efforts to intervene in homelessness and create solutions to alleviate the suffering of homeless people. Sadly, most efforts have yielded poor results. However, over the past 25 years, Housing First has come to the fore. It is a model which places people in homes without any preconditions. The philosophy of this model dictates that the mental health and addiction issues which destabilize many homeless people naturally abate without any other intervention once a person has a stable home of their own. When supported, previously homeless people see their condition improve much more rapidly.
Research has found that Housing First has a tremendous success rate, so much so that many levels of Canadian government have committed to funding Housing First strategies. Recently, the federal government committed $2.1 billion over 11 years toward its Homelessness Partnering Strategy, focusing on Housing First. In turn, many municipalities have committed to Housing First in their 10-Year Homelessness Plans.
However, despite the mounting evidence and political support for Housing First, seeing it to fruition is slow. Our municipalities still rely heavily on emergency shelters to provide emergency services, offering support programs through short-term residential programs. Part of the reason for this rests in the fact that many officials still do not have a clear understanding of the difference between Housing First and short-term residential treatment, or lack understanding that people do not require training in order to be placed in Housing First placements. Another reason lies in the fact that cities lack affordable housing options which can be used to place people in Housing First apartments, in spite of the fact that they often pay more to emergency shelters on a monthly basis than they would to rent individual apartments. Another reason still is that funding formulas and policies still favour outdated ways of attending to the needs of the homeless population and need fine-tuning to adapt to funding Housing First directly.
We have a better, more efficient, affordable and effective means of managing homelessness and providing for the needs of homeless people with respect and dignity. We can and should do better to make this a reality.
Join us in Ottawa on September 18 and 19 to explore the Housing-First model and its supporting research at Richelieu Park in the Ottawa, ON, neighbourhood of Vanier.
On September 18, there will be an intimate dinner with researchers, service providers, and community leaders from Vanier and the City of Ottawa, accompanied by a keynote address from a prominent Canadian advocate for the homeless. It will be held at the log cabin in Richelieu Park, which is nestled in the largest urban maple forest in the world.
On September 19, there will be four panel discussions held in the Richelieu Community Centre.
- The first panel will be a moderated discussion on Housing First and its supporting research.
- The second panel will be a moderated discussion on the causes of homelessness and homelessness prevention.
- The third panel will be a moderated discussion with service providers on the challenges and barriers they face in delivering Housing First.
- The fourth panel will discuss ways in which all levels of government can adapt their funding models and policies to line up more directly with the Housing First model and away from traditional shelters.
I hope you will be able to join us on September 18 and 19, for what promises to be an important opportunity to educate and inform policymakers and stakeholders about the best tools available to prevent homelessness and support those who become homeless.
For more information or to purchase tickets, visit: https://www.housingfirstottawa.com