Pioneering Vancouver scheme 'helps 500 homeless transform their lives' study finds

The Vancouver At Home initiative gave homeless people apartments around the city and access to health workers

A group of homeless people who were taken from emergency shelters and correctional facilities to be housed in apartments scattered across Vancouver in a new initiative, have transformed their lives, become less dependent on the state and have made fewer criminal offences, a government-funded organisation has said.

A five-year study by the Mental Health Commission of Canada found that 500 participants, who left a life on the streets or a cycle of intermittent stays in hospitals or shelters, responded positively to the Vancouver At Home project.

The scheme offered apartments in 22 different neighbourhoods in the city, as well as access to support staff.

A final report by the Commission said that acceptance from landlords and private tenants in the mixed social housing was a “hugely powerful part” of the participants’ transformation.

“Historically, projects in Vancouver that have tried to house people who were formerly homeless or experiencing mental illnesses in neighbourhoods outside of the Downtown Eastside have met opposition and sentiments of ‘not in my backyard’,” said the report.

“That has not been the case for [Vancouver At Home] participants, who have successfully joined neighbourhoods scattered throughout the City of Vancouver.”

All of the participants had some form of mental illness, while 58 per cent experienced substance abuse and 24 per cent were dependent on alcohol. Fifty-two per cent had a psychotic illness while 40 per cent suffered with depression.

The Downtown Eastside of Vancouver is an area battling “drug use, crime, homelessness, housing issues, unemployment and loss of business in the community,” the City of Vancouver says.

The report adds: “In contrast to the affluence and physical beauty of its surroundings, Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES) neighbourhood is among Canada’s poorest communities.

“The homeless population in Vancouver is concentrated in the DTES, where the city’s lowest cost rental units exist alongside a large but fragmented array of resources, including shelters, drop-in centres, and community health services.”

The report also found that there was a significant economic benefit to the scheme – with a saving of CAD$8.55 – in subsequent social services – with every CAD10 initially laid out to fund it.

As reported by the Vancouver Sun, the 500 participants, in comparison with a control group of 200 who were not given housing, had a more stable life, committed fewer crimes and relied less on social services.

The research project is being conducted in Vancouver, Winnipeg, Toronto, Montreal and Moncton, with each city trialing its own unique response to the challenge of homelessness.

The report has led homelessness charity Crisis to call on the British government to tackle its own housing problem.

Leslie Morphy, Chief Executive of Crisis, told The Independent: “Every homeless person should be able to get help with housing. Yet far too many homeless people in England are being turned away by their councils because they are not considered a priority for housing. Rough sleeping has risen considerably – by 36 per cent in three years.

“Crisis wants changes to the law to make sure that everyone who needs help with housing receives it. Councils too must do more to help all those who are homeless and not hide behind legal distinctions.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Manchester

£18000 - £23000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultan...

Recruitment Genius: Plumber

£22000 - £25900 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Company is expanding and th...

Recruitment Genius: Corporate Account Manager

£27000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Corporate Account Manager is ...

Recruitment Genius: Chef de Partie

£7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This award winning conference venues provider...

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders