Two elections, a new provincial government, a new 25-member Toronto City Council, a major provincial health-care restructuring and the release of 11 City-owned sites for housing development. These transformative times have bolstered our resolve to “Fuel the Conversation” to achieve real solutions for the more than 16,000 people on Toronto’s supportive housing wait list. Our goal is very simple – let us help people get and keep their housing. We are at the table, helping to advance our collective – and achievable objective – to end chronic homelessness in Toronto
This year, Houselink advanced our strategic plan across four key priorities. To turn the tide on homelessness we have taken an active role in the Toronto Alliance to End Homelessness (TAEH), and gained the resounding support of our residents and the Ministry of Health to re-purpose some of our shared housing into self-contained units. Our challenges in working with the City’s Planning Division led us to both pursue other avenues and work with TAEH partners to address the systemic barriers that impede our development goals.
To improve our core services, we expanded Mental Health Peer Support services to support 81% more Houselink residents in their personal recovery. We made significant strides in strengthening our Supported Employment Program with a focus on sustainability as well as health and safety, and we designated a Houselink property for five men leaving the shelter system, supported by the Canadian Mental Health Association. We also helped test a Supportive Housing Core Competencies On-line Training Course supported by the Toronto Mental Health and Addiction Supportive Housing Network.
To ensure our services are integrated and sustainable, we helped pilot a new tenant satisfaction survey designed specifically for the mental health and addiction supportive housing sector in Ontario. Researchers from McGill University selected Houselink as the Toronto site for a national research study on implementing Mental Health Recovery Guidelines developed by the Mental Health Commission of Canada. And our efforts to better communicate our work and impact attracted over 100 new volunteers.
This past year we saw more participants engaged in our core programs, resulting in more jobs, more healthy meals, more employment supports and more social recreation activities. To expand on the transformative power of peer support, we have introduced Wellness Recovery Workers to our support offerings.
So here a some highlights and milestones over this past year:
- Reached over 1,200 participants through our social programs
- Employed 117 participants in casual placements
- Over 93% of tenants remain stably housed
- More than 140 people are on the Road to Employment
- Served over 8,000 healthy meals across the city
- 83% of tenants surveyed report high satisfaction with support staff
For over forty years now we have helped to house over 2,500 people, served more than 90,000 meals and helped hundreds learn the skills necessary to find meaningful work.
Core funding from the Toronto Central LHIN and the Ontario Ministry of Health allows us to provide quality homes, supports and programs necessary for people to live healthy, active lives within the community – and helping participants to overcome many barriers such as extreme poverty, food security, mental health and addiction issues.
“I am not sure where I would be without Houselink. They not only provided me with a permanent affordable home, they helped me build new friendships, find part-time work and improved the quality of my life overall“.