Housing First is a recovery-oriented approach to homelessness that involves moving people who experience homelessness into independent and permanent housing as quickly as possible, with no preconditions, and then providing them with additional supports and services as needed. It is a proven intervention, moving people from an experience of homelessness to stability with support to access services to achieve long-term success.
Coordinated Access ensures those with the greatest need are served first. Housing First is not “first come, first served.” Instead, it matches people who are experiencing homelessness with the best service available to meet their needs.
To create a simple, and streamlined process, the “No Wrong Door Approach” has been created so people seeking assistance can go to one of the multiple screening locations within the city and experience the same consistent assessment. This ensures people and families experiencing homelessness can access the services they need and are eligible for, without having to call or visit multiple social service programs.
The Supported Referral program is a part of a diverse range of services that have been developed to assist individuals in moving to safe and stable accommodations, including Housing First Intensive Case Management, Rapid Re-Housing, Permanent Supportive Housing, and Assertive Community Treatment. Each of these programs provides a unique approach to linking participants to housing opportunities.
The Supported Referral program is a low intensity service that is intended to assist individuals who have some barriers to accessing housing on their own, but who already have existing relationships with the partner agency. Participants will benefit from accessing one-time financial assistance through a “client start-up” fund provided to the Supported Referral partner with the purpose of restoring housing stability and participant independence. Funds for the Supported Referral Program do not replace or duplicate services that are currently available. For example, emergency funds through Alberta Supports.
We know that 59% of those counted in our community are experiencing chronic homelessness. One of the ways we are addressing that is through our participation in the national 20,000 Homes campaign. It was launched in our city in November, 2015. We have 862 people and 29 families on this registry. We know their names and their needs, and now we are working through the Housing First program to house and support our city’s most vulnerable.
Landlords play a vital role in Homeward Trust’s goal to end homelessness as more than 80% of people in Housing First programs live in market rental units. Renting units across the city—as opposed to concentrating participants in certain neighbourhoods or buildings—is proven to provide significantly better outcomes for both program participants and communities. Homeward Trust’s Landlord Relations team supports the success of the Housing First program by working with landlords to answer questions, address issues, and maintain positive relationships.
Homeward Trust helps Housing First clients who face barriers or difficulties in paying their own rent in market rental units. The program offers a subsidy that is paired alongside the client’s income support or employment income to ensure their rent is paid in full each month and that their housing stability is not at risk due to late or insufficient funds. The intent of the subsidy is to provide financial assistance until the client reaches financial independence or becomes accepted in the CRHC (Capital Region Housing Corporation) subsidy program, which is a long-term and permanent subsidy program.
Homeward Trust offers staff and partnering agencies extensive training opportunities. Housing First workers regularly attend workshops and training sessions, learning about best practices, and refining the skills needed to best help their clients.
All staff and frontline workers in funded programs go through monthly Indigenous Diversity Training. This is provided to over 200 participants annually and shares knowledge about Indigenous culture, history, and legal rights.
Homeward Trust also operates The 7 Cities Online Learning Resource (SCOLR), an electronic learning platform for Housing First practitioners across Alberta. This training platform enables the 7 Cities of Alberta to consistently disseminate core concepts of housing first and effectively implement this approach to end homelessness across the province.
The start-up cost for anyone moving into his or her first home can be quite expensive. This is a challenge that Edmontonians transitioning out of homelessness also face, which is why Homeward Trust created the social enterprise known as Find.
Find sells low-cost, quality used furniture to the public and provides essential furnishings free of charge to people moving out of homelessness through the Housing First program.