Providing housing for individuals with mental health and addiction issues should be a special focus of Ontario’s Long Term Affordable Housing Strategy, states a recent CMHA Ontario submission to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH). The submission was delivered on Friday, July 3, 2015 as part of the public consultations held by MMAH across the province in their work to update the strategy. CMHA Ontario’s recommendations were a result of internal consultations with a group of our stakeholders, including local CMHA branches in Niagara, Oxford, Champlain East and Nipissing.
In the submission, CMHA Ontario recognized that the development of a revamped Long-Term Affordable Housing Strategy for Ontario brings a renewed focus on the rising numbers in need of affordable housing and people with mental illnesses and addictions who need supportive housing options. However, CMHA Ontario notes that the renewed Strategy must be developed with a view to create a sustainable supply over the next twenty to thirty years, and therefore not be inhibited by the immediate and short-term financial constraints of the current fiscal picture.
To that end, CMHA Ontario made the following recommendations for affordable housing:
- Continue investing in the implementation of Ontario’s Long Term Affordable Housing Strategy, with a special focus on providing housing for individuals with mental health and addiction issues.
- Support future investment in the Housing First model, where housing is provided as the first step, in combination with rent supplements and support services, to people who are homeless and living with mental health and addiction issues.
- Continue to provide access to a range of housing options such as supportive housing, supported housing with or without on-site staff, rent supplements and short stay crisis safe beds for those with mental health and addiction needs and those involved with the justice system.
- Increase funding for additional rent supplements across the province. Individuals can use rent supplements to gain greater access to supportive housing. Supportive housing providers can also potentially use rent supplement funding to leverage private capital for new construction and thereby create additional housing stock.
For more on CMHA Ontario’s recommendations, read the full submission.