Housing is a mental health issue
By Roslyn Shields, Senior Policy Analyst at CAMH
Did you know that over 500,000 Canadians with mental illness have inadequate housing? That over 100,000 are homeless?
Every day thousands of people with mental illness sleep in shelters or on the streets. Some live in housing that is unsafe and in disrepair. Others are stuck in hospital because no housing matches their needs.
Many CAMH clients know what inadequate housing feels like. In Toronto, people with mental illness can wait up to seven years for affordable housing and up to five years for supportive housing!
Yet we know that affordable and supportive housing improves people’s quality of life and is integral to recovery. It is also cost effective. That is why, for many years, CAMH has worked with community partners to improve access to housing for our clients and others with mental illness who are homeless or inadequately housed.
CAMH collaborates with 26 local agencies to provide housing and support to over 175 outpatients with complex mental illness, including schizophrenia. We manage housing subsidies for clients living in their own apartments. Our clinical programs have developed partnerships that meet the unique housing needs of older patients, those with developmental delays, substance use histories, and those involved in the justice system.
And that’s not where our work ends. Our research and advocacy has made sure that mental health housing is on the radar at the local and provincial levels.
But our efforts, and the efforts of so many others, can only go so far if we don’t have the support of our Federal Government. That is why the Canadian Housing and Renewal Association is launching a National Week of Action on Housing to make sure that affordable housing is an election issue.
CAMH agrees that all parties must make a commitment to increased and prolonged investment in affordable and supportive housing. We believe our country needs a National Housing Strategy with a clear vision and measurable targets to ensure that all citizens have a place to call home. Canadians with mental illness deserve no less.