A new toolkit is available for organizations and municipalities looking for an innovative, field-tested means of providing effective social housing to combat homelessness in their community.
Available for download now, the CMHA Ottawa Condo Program Toolkit provides a detailed look at the condominium program operated by the Ottawa branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA Ottawa), a model well-suited for program replication and/or adaptation.
The toolkit will serve as a resource for social services and housing providers so they may replicate and/or adapt the CMHA Ottawa condo program in their own efforts to develop supportive housing for people experiencing chronic homelessness or vulnerable housing, as guided by the principles of the Housing First philosophy, including the provision of housing for people experiencing severe and persistent mental illness and/or substance use disorder.
CMHA Ottawa owns and operates 40 condominium units with a scattered-site approach, providing stable, dignified housing for clients of the agency (eligible unhoused individuals in the Ottawa area with a mental health and/or substance use disorder), while helping address a societal need and fostering recovery. By purchasing existing housing stock (condominium units) throughout the city and functioning as a landlord (with social supports available as needed), organizations can reduce homelessness and help individuals get back on their feet with the best chances of success.
The CMHA Ottawa condominium program is considered by experts as a shining example of the Housing First philosophy in action. The Housing First approach centres on immediately providing independent and permanent housing to people experiencing homelessness – without conditions – and then providing additional supports and services.
The scattered-site approach has been proven a key element to fostering recovery: “It’s why I think scattered units work and warehousing people does not,” says one condo tenant of CMHA Ottawa, “because being around ‘sick’ doesn’t make you sane.”
For more information and to download the toolkit, please visit the CMHA Ottawa website.