Home on the Hill Supportive Housing came about when parents of adult children living with a serious mental illness, such as Schizophrenia or Bi-polar Disorder, joined to form Family Advocates for Mental Health, which met monthly at the Krasman Centre. The Mission of this group is the following: “Our shared objective is to individually and collectively aid our loved ones to achieve a better quality of life and thereby enhance our own”.
During a strategy meeting led by a family caregiver, Ed Beaty, held in September of 2010, a number of strategic directions were explored. One direction that members found important was the need for safe, stable housing for people living with serious mental illness, in our community.
Kathy Mochnacki, a family caregiver, took on the role of heading up this strategic direction and was joined by another mother, Lorraine Speer.
Also in 2010, the Social Justice Committee of the Anglican Diocese of Toronto held a conference focused on the lack of affordable housing. St. Mary’s Anglican Church, Richmond Hill sent representatives to the conference. At the conference, visitation teams were created with the direction to visit social housing projects and report back on their findings.
The representatives of St. Mary’s formed a team, comprising the Rev. Gerald Loweth, the Rev. Dr. Derek Davidson and Robert Veltheer. The team visited a rooming house operated by Toronto Christian Resource Centre Self Help Inc., and conducted an extensive interview with the house residents. The residents stressed the importance of affordable and decent living accommodations to many aspects of their lives such as ability to find employment, health issues, safety and interpersonal relations. The team reports were summarized in Affordable Housing Visits Report, Housing Advocacy Subcommittee, Anglican Diocese of Toronto, January 2011. St. Mary’s Outreach and Social Justice Committee had decided that issues around affordable housing were to be its area of focus. At about this time, the Rev. Mark Kingham, the Incumbent Priest at St. Mary’s asked the committee to reach out to other churches and social agencies in the local community to assist in issues relating to social justice and the care and protection of the vulnerable in the community.
Subsequently, St. Mary’s Social Justice and Outreach Committee of joined with members of the Family Advocates for Mental Health, to form a not for profit supportive housing agency, Home on the Hill Supportive Housing. Two others joined our board: Pamela Smith from St. Matthews United Church and Gabriel D’aoust a family caregiver. Home on the Hill plans to develop supportive housing for people living with mental illness. More recently, Home on the Hill has been providing education and support to families and program opportunities for meaningful activity for their loved ones. The Board includes parents and family members of persons with serious mental illnesses. Home on the Hill Supportive Housing is incorporated as a not-for-profit corporation under the Laws of Ontario and is a registered charitable organization under the Income Tax Act. It was incorporated in 2011 and received charitable registration in 2012.
Home on the Hill serves clients from the 2.5 percent of individuals who have serious mental illness. These individuals often do not access service from mainstream mental health agencies. Many have the symptom of anosognosia and lack insight that they have an illness, so believe that they do not need service.
Home on the Hill supports their families, too, who are still not considered part of the “circle of care”. The 2013 Guidelines from the Mental Health Commission of Canada, which would pave the way for the family voice to be incorporated into the formal mental health system remain largely unimplemented to this day.
Home on the Hill proudly supports the Guidelines of the Mental Health Commission of Canada and incorporates the recommendations into our model of care. Accordingly, our programs are developed by families together with clients. Our programming supports both the family and their loved ones with serious mental illness.