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Treat homelessness first, everything else later: Study
Date:4/28/2014

HAMILTON, ON, April. 28, 2014 Providing safe, stable and affordable housing first is the best way to help homeless in Hamilton, Ont., according to new research.

Researchers from St. Michael's Hospital and McMaster University assessed the success of Hamilton's Transitions to Home program a program designed to quickly find permanent housing for men who are frequent users of the city's emergency shelter system. Hamilton men who in the last year spent 30 nights or more in emergency shelters or on the streets are eligible for the program, which is run by the city's Wesley Urban Ministries.

The findings, which were published in a report delivered to the Department of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, show that providing prompt, permanent shelter to the city's homeless is cheaper and more effective than trying to treat underlying conditions such as mental health or addictions first.

"Before all else, housing should be seen as a basic human right," explained Dr. Julia Woodhall-Melnik, author of the report and a researcher at the Centre for Research on Inner City Health of St. Michael's Hospital and post-doctoral fellow at McMaster University. "Transitions to Home rightly offers affordable, stable housing at the outset with no conditions attached. With housing in place first, people can better cope with and then resolve mental health and addiction issues and work towards achieving other personal goals."

Researchers used data from Transitions to Home's outcome tracking system and the Homeless Families and Individuals Information System a tracking tool used by all overnight case workers at Hamilton shelters.

"There are 160 participants actively enrolled in Transitions to Home right now," explained Dr. Woodhall-Melnik. "And 98 per cent of them are in permanent or temporary housing."

Most Transitions to Home participants spent fewer nights in emergency shelters and were more likely to remain in affordable
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Contact: Geoff Koehler
koehlerg@smh.ca
416-864-6060 x6537
St. Michael's Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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