The Need for Supportive Housing for People Living With Serious Mental Illness in the Richmond Hill Community.
Among Ontarians that are living with a mental illness, approximately 2.5% will experience serious mental illness (Office of the Auditor General of Ontario, 2008). Richmond Hill’s population is 195,022 according to the 2016 census. Using the 2.5% statistic, there were 4876 individuals requiring mental health supports in the community of Richmond Hill in 2016 and presumably more now in 2018. A Needs Assessment completed in 2012 by SHS Consulting and commissioned by Home on the Hill determined that there was only 10 supportive housing units and although more may have been developed since 2012, it is clearly not enough.
Housing is a social determinant of health (Romanow Report, 2002). A vast quantity of studies have found that safe, stable, and adequate housing is essential for the health and well-being of individuals with mental illness (Canadian Mental Health Association, 2009; Minister’s Advisory Group on the 10-Year Mental Health and Addiction Strategy, 2010; Community Support and Research Unit, CAMH, 2011; The Senate Standing Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology, 2011)
Supportive housing is a type of housing that is offered for individuals in many different situations, including those living with mental illness. It typically includes a self-contained unit that comes with appropriate support services for the individual or household. It is typically offered to those who would need support services for a long term period and can be designated for those who have low to high support needs whom would be able to live independently with these supports (Needs and Demand Analysis, SHS Consulting, 2012).
The importance of housing in everyone’s life is clear and obvious. The elements of secure housing include affordability, security of tenure, desirability and safety of location, and the condition of the dwelling unit itself. All of these elements add up to something that is called “home” and this term has a number of very important meanings. When the elements are positively aligned, “home” is a foundation, a base, and a key component of our personal lives. A life in the community is built from home, and after facing the daily challenges of community life it is the place to return and recharge. People living with mental illness have repeatedly made this point (Turning the Key, Community Support and Research Unit, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health & Canadian Council on Social Development, 2011).
At this time, Canada has no national housing strategy, yet access to secure stable housing, as the above information clearly demonstrates, is essential to us all, including those living with a serious mental illness. Accordingly, Home on the Hill Supportive Housing has been formed to address the need for supportive housing in our community.