The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Sudbury-Manitoulin (SM) branch is receiving more than one million dollars from the North East Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) to fund a new harm reduction home for individuals who experience chronic homelessness and have substance use issues.
The home will provide permanent housing for as many as 15 people with addictions issues who are now homeless or at risk of being homeless and will offer supportive counseling, housing, social and clinical services. Although this will be the first home of its kind in Sudbury, four other cities in Ontario – Thunder Bay, Hamilton, Toronto and Ottawa – have similar homes that have proven successful.
Patty McDonald, director of operations at CMHA SM, told the Sudbury Star that “the harm reduction home will have a great impact on both the health system and on families. It will change lives. It may even save them.”
MacDonald also talked about the three phases of care that were discussed during initial meetings with LHIN officials to discuss how to better fund mental health and addictions programs.
The first was a shelter to get people off the street. The second was a managed alcohol program like the one that would be offered at the harm reduction home. The third is providing assistance for some people to transition to the community.
“The [harm reduction] program will help clear up patients from the emergency, as well as take the load off the city’s police officers who have been struggling to respond to alcohol-related calls,” Tina Ranta, CMHA SM Harm Reduction Program Manager, told CBC news.
This funding is part of the LHIN’s larger funding announcement to invest almost $2.3 million in what it calls high-priority supports for people living with mental health and substance abuse challenges.
In addition to the harm reduction home, $250,000 will go to expand the Corner Clinic and the Mental Health Paramedicine Program; $520,000 will go to transitional community support; $260,000 will go to Community Mobilization Sudbury; $180,000 to Health Sciences North’s fetal alcohol spectrum disorder clinic so it can treat more people; and $50,000 to a project called Shared Space Sudbury, a hub where clients will be able to access a variety of mental health and addictions services.
To read more about the harm reduction home, visit the CMHA SM website.