Homelessness Outreach with Canadian Mental Health Association

Aug 2020 | Community Profiles

“Safe, affordable housing is very much out of reach for many people.”

The Street Reach program at Canadian Mental Health Association Mid-Island Branch (CMHA) focuses on two areas: outreach and providing rent subsidies.

Connecting one-on-one

Outreach workers connect one-on-one with people living rough; in camps, in parks and on the street. The outreach worker learns what each person’s needs are and determines what community services can best support them.

Then the outreach worker will help their clients obtain these supports. For example, they may start the application process for supportive housing, make appointments with health professionals or facilitate BC Housing registry.

Since COVID, the focus has been reaching out to people experiencing isolation. “There was a lot of fear and confusion about COVID-19 in the community of people facing homelessness,” says Kiersten Stewart, Programs Director at Canadian Mental Health Association. “These folks may not have access to reliable news, so we need to make sure they have the correct information to keep themselves and their community safe.”

A girl is sitting with her legs crossed wearing denim jacket and jeans not showing her face

Housing support

The homelessness outreach program also provides temporary subsidies for people who want to get into market housing. Income assistance offers $375 a month for housing. CMHA provides a number of subsidy top-ups, funded by BC Housing, giving people the ability to rent an apartment.

 “Subsidies are important,” says Stewart. “Safe, affordable housing is very much out of reach for many people in our community.”

With one of their basic needs of safe housing taken care of, these subsidies give people time and space to start focusing on their well-being. This may include seeking help from health professionals, finding employment or exploring educational opportunities.

Canadian Mental Health Association is currently supporting 73 individuals with the subsidies.  

For more information about CMHA Mid-Island, visit: cmhamidisland.ca

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