Many people living with mental health and addictions issues are caught in a cycle of homelessness, police encounters, court hearings, hospital stays, and incarceration. This cycle results in significant public costs for jails, policing, hospital use, shelters, and other services. A new approach to supportive housing will reduce many of these costs, and will also lower rates of homelessness, justice involvement, and mitigate the negative impacts of mental health issues and addictions on people’s lives.
For some of the people involved, mental illness or addictions is central in their criminal justice issues, while for many the justice involvement relates to drug use, homelessness, extreme poverty, and weak social supports.
This report is a needs assessment, along with recommendations for action in Toronto. It draws from expert interviews, service user and service provider focus groups, analyses of waitlist and clinical data, a review of the research literature, and contributions from an advisory group.
This report has been prepared in a context of rising attention at all levels of government to homelessness and mental health, and supportive housing as a long-term solution. It is intended to inform current and future investments in supportive housing for justice-involved people with mental health and addiction challenges. It should inform program development by providing an assessment of support and housing needs and identifying evidence-based interventions to address these.
This needs assessment is a component of a broader Supportive Housing Growth Plan for Toronto, initiated as a collaboration between the Toronto Alliance to End Homelessness, the Canadian Mental Health Association Toronto Branch and the Wellesley Institute. This broader Growth Plan will bring organizations together across sectors to develop a comprehensive, evidence-informed, consensus-based plan to expand the supportive housing system in Toronto, and support its implementation.
Click here to read the report.