Only fund evidence-based interventions for defeating homelessness
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We need to overcome homelessness in our communities. This problem has afflicted people and societies for too long. People living on the streets and in poverty deserve interventions that treat them with dignity and deliver results.
Federally, the Government of Canada has embraced Housing First, which gives homeless people a place of their own without having to meet any preconditions. This strategy has shown strong positive results, with clients showing improved mental and physical health. This model also saves tax dollars, as it is cheaper to deliver than traditional shelter models. Additionally, people placed in Housing First use medical and emergency resources far less often, further increasing savings. While a Housing First framework was committed to years ago, seeing it effectively implemented it in our communities has been a painstakingly slow process.
Despite the effectiveness of Housing First, and in spite of the fact that many municipalities have committed to this approach, it is far too often ignored in the name of economic development. However, the view that Housing First conflicts with economic development is a false dichotomy, as evidence points to supporting our most vulnerable in ways which are integrated within the broader community and more likely to be welcomed by the host community.
The overwhelming body of evidence points to the efficacy of Housing First over emergency shelters, from both an outcome and cost perspective. Further, where emergency shelters are still required, they should be small and integrated into the host community. Additionally, all communities should host housing for our most marginalized instead of concentrating them in the lowest-income communities, thereby working to prevent future homelessness.
With this in mind, the undersigned demand that the Government of Ontario show leadership by only funding those initiatives to support the homeless which are grounded in evidence. All funding should be conditional on the requirement that organizations funded to support the homeless population provide a detailed plan demonstrating how they are placing individuals in permanent housing as opposed to relying on partner organizations. If funded organizations that support the homeless do not have a plan to take responsibility for placing individuals in permanent housing, they should have their provincial funding withdrawn. The Province of Ontario must also commit to engaging with municipalities to ensure that they have the resources available to execute on these requirements at the individual community level.
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