Harper Government takes action to address homelessness in Vancouver

March 27, 2015 – Vancouver, British Columbia – Employment and Social Development Canada

Wai Young, Member of Parliament for Vancouver South, on behalf of the Honourable Candice Bergen, Minister of State for Social Development, joined the Honourable Suzanne Anton, British Columbia Minister of Justice and Member of the Legislative Assembly for Vancouver-Fraserview, and Kerry Jang, City of Vancouver Councillor, to celebrate the official re-opening of Powell Place Women’s Shelter.

With funding of $500,000 provided by the Government of Canada’s Homelessness Partnering Strategy (HPS), The Bloom Group renovated Powell Place, an emergency shelter for women in the Downtown Eastside, doubling its capacity from 26 to 52 beds. The renovations also included the addition of new rooms, such as a secure reception area, which will allow The Bloom Group to expand its support services. Funding for this project was also provided by BC Housing and the City of Vancouver.

Through the HPS, the Government of Canada works with other levels of government, communities and organizations to develop and invest in local solutions to combat homelessness. The Government recently announced the renewal of HPS with an investment of nearly $600 million in funding over five years, until March 201.

Quick Facts

  • Government of Canada funding was provided through Metro Vancouver, which received more than $24 million between April 1, 2011 and March 31, 2014 under the HPS to support projects in Vancouver that prevent and reduce homelessness. Projects were approved by Metro Vancouver for HPS funding, based on recommendations made by the Regional Steering Committee on Homelessness.
  • Since the launch of the HPS in April 2007, nearly 35,000 Canadians who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless have benefitted from education and training opportunities; over 34,000 have received help to find work; and almost 6,000 new shelter beds have been created.
  • Through Economic Action Plan 2014, the Government is building on its previous efforts and partnerships to implement the evidence-based Housing First approach across Canada, which aims to stabilize the lives of homeless individuals for the long term by first moving them into permanent housing and then providing additional support for underlying issues, such as addiction and mental health. It has proven to be the most effective approach in reducing homelessness.
  • Metro Vancouver is receiving another $41 million over five years (2014-2019) in renewed HPS funding for the implementation of Housing First in Vancouver.

Quote

“Our Government is proud to support Metro Vancouver and its partner, The Bloom Group, and all the work they do in Vancouver. With a roof over their heads, all Canadians can prosper as we work together towards eliminating homelessness.”

Wai Young, Member of Parliament for Vancouver South

Associated Links

Homelessness Partnering Strategy

Housing First

Contacts

Austin Jean
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of State for Social Development
819-953-2350

Media Relations Office
Employment and Social Development Canada
819-994-5559
media@hrsdc-rhdcc.gc.ca
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Backgrounder

Homelessness Partnering Strategy

The Homelessness Partnering Strategy (HPS) is a unique, community-based program aimed at preventing and reducing homelessness by providing direct support and funding to 61 designated communities in all provinces and territories, as well as to Aboriginal, rural and remote communities across Canada, to help them address homelessness.

Economic Action Plan 2013 renewed the HPS with nearly $600 million in total funding over five years, ending in March 2019, using a Housing First approach.

Until recently, the most common way to deal with homelessness has been a “crisis-based” model–not just in Canada, but in many developed countries. This model involves relying heavily on shelters and other emergency interventions. Typically, individuals must first participate in a series of treatments and demonstrate sobriety before they are offered housing. This approach has been costly and not effective for the long term.

Without stable housing, it is much more difficult to participate in treatment programs and manage mental and physical health issues. This leads to high costs for emergency housing, hospitalization, shelters, prisons and a host of other crisis services.

Housing First, on the other hand, involves ensuring individuals have immediate housing before providing the necessary supports to help them stabilize their lives. Experiences in other countries have demonstrated that this approach shows great promise. 

In 2008, under the leadership of Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the Government invested $110 million in the Mental Health Commission of Canada to undertake our own landmark study. The results demonstrated that:

  • Housing First rapidly ends homelessness and leads to other positive outcomes for quality of life;
  • it is a sound financial investment that can lead to significant cost savings. Every $10 invested led to an average savings to government of $21.72 for participants who used emergency and social services the most; and
  • it works in the long term. An average of 73 percent of participants in the Housing First group were in stable housing over the course of the study, compared to 32 percent of the usual care group.

Overall, participants in the study were less likely to get in trouble with the law, and those who received both housing and supportive services showed more signs of recovery than those who did not.

Community Entity Model

HPS funding is delivered to eligible communities primarily through the Community Entity (CE) delivery model, except in the cases of Rural and Remote funding in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories, where Service Canada is responsible for delivery. In Quebec, the HPS is delivered through a Canada-Quebec agreement that respects the jurisdictions and priorities of both governments in addressing homelessness.

Under the CE model, the federal government entrusts a community body, often a community’s municipal government, to select and manage HPS projects in their area. All requests for funding must go through the CE. In addition, all requests for funding are assessed and recommended to the CE through a community advisory board or a regional advisory board, composed of a wide range of community stakeholders.

Implementation of the renewed HPS

The implementation of the renewed HPS is delivered through the following three funding streams, which provide funding to communities across Canada to support them in addressing homelessness. The Housing First approach, part of the renewed HPS, will be phased in with specified funding targets, taking into account varying capacity and resources among communities.

1)     Designated communities

A total of 61 communities across Canada (including those in Quebec) that have a significant problem with homelessness have been selected to receive ongoing support to address this issue. These communities–mostly urban centres–are given funding that must be matched with contributions from other sources. Funded projects must support priorities identified through a community planning process.

  • Starting April 1, 2015, the largest designated communities will be required to invest at least 65 percent of HPS designated communities funding in Housing First activities.
  • Starting April 1, 2016, other designated communities receiving at least $200,000 in HPS funding will be required to invest at least 40 percent of HPS designated communities funding in Housing First activities.
  • Designated communities which receive under $200,000 in HPS funding or are located in the North will be encouraged to implement Housing First but will not be required to meet set targets.

2)     Aboriginal Homelessness

Through the Aboriginal Homelessness funding stream, the HPS partners with Aboriginal groups to ensure that services meet the unique needs of off-reserve homeless Aboriginal people in cities and rural areas.

  • Starting April 1, 2016, communities that receive more than $200,000 in HPS funding will be required to invest at least 40 percent of HPS Aboriginal Homelessness funding in Housing First activities.
  • Communities that receive less than $200,000 in funding under the HPS Aboriginal Homelessness funding stream will be encouraged to implement Housing First but will not be required to meet set targets.

Please note that the unique needs of all First Nations, Inuit, Métis and non-status Indians are considered and that off-reserve Aboriginal people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness can also access services under the Designated Communities and Rural and Remote Homelessness funding streams.

3)     Rural and Remote Homelessness

The Rural and Remote Homelessness funding stream of the HPS funds projects in rural and remote areas of Canada outside the 61 designated communities.

  • This stream has adopted a two