Supportive housing is affordable housing linked to supports. It is provided for individuals who need supports to live independently in the community. There are many populations that benefit from supportive housing such as seniors and people living with developmental disabilities. Our housing is dedicated to people living with mental health and addiction challenges. It was first used in the 1970s as a community-based alternative to psychiatric institutions.
While each provider may have their own criteria, generally an individual must have a persistent and serious mental health challenge, as well as meet a threshold for low income. Most residents in supportive housing rely on social assistance, most commonly ODSP (Ontario Disability Support Program). Within Toronto, there are a number of dedicated programs serving a specific subset of this population. This could include those with concurrent mental health and serious substance use challenges; court diversion programs; and homes dedicated to a specific gender, family composition or ethnic group.
Supportive housing for individuals with mental health challenges and addiction is primarily made affordable through funding by the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care, with some instances funded through the City of Toronto. Over the years, there have been various funding formulas used to make the housing affordable to those with low income or on social assistance. The housing can be:
- Residential homes which are most often shared between 4 to 20 adults
- Private rooming houses
- Clustered or scattered rental units in the for-profit sector, made affordable through rent supplements
- Dedicated buildings, usually ranging from 4 to 50 units in size
All the housing is permanent, regulated by the Residential Tenancies Act, and fits seamlessly into the community.
The supports are generally funded by the LHIN’s (Local Health Integrated Networks) and delivered by the housing provider or another community agency. These supports are tailored to meet each individual’s needs and goals, and tenants/clients have input into the decisions that affect them.
Many providers are registered charities that acquire additional funds through grants and donations to promote Recovery and overall wellness. The range of supports provided is flexible and can take many forms:
- High support which includes on-site staff, meal preparation and medication monitoring
- Low to medium supports that include visits from support staff and help with tenancy issues
- A host of programs that foster Recovery, wellness and citizenship, through community kitchens, social and recreational activities, employment opportunities and health and wellness programs
Our housing and supports are designed to end homelessness