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Reaching Home: A community-based approach to homelessness

Reaching Home: A community-based approach to homelessness

On June 11, 2018, the Federal Government announced a revitalized homelessness strategy appropriately titled, “Reaching Home.” The new strategy will provide municipalities with more funding and fewer constraints on their efforts to prevent and reduce homelessness. Reaching Home is part of the Government’s effort to create a more equal Canada with diverse and accessible communities.

New Goals

The homelessness strategy has introduced a number of new goals and priorities. The government will be working with communities to build upon the best practices developed by Housing First. The strategy encourages the delivery of data-driven system plans with clearly established outcomes. By 2028, the Federal Government and local communities will strive to reduce chronic homelessness by 50%. The plan is to promote diverse communities in order to create a new generation of housing in Canada. Housing under the new strategy should be accessible, sustainable, mixed-use, and mixed-income.

New Funding

The government will be doubling its support for communities by transferring funds directly to municipalities and local service providers to address the needs of those experiencing homelessness. In 2017, the Federal Government announced it’s first ever National Housing Strategy – a 10-year $40 billion plan. As part of the National Housing Strategy, $2.2 billion will be attributed to Reaching Home over 10 years; the 2016 budget plans for $111.8 million over two years and this total will be doubled by 2021-2020. Additionally, Reaching Home will further increase the funding for Indigenous homeless populations.

The program will also be expanded to involve new communities. Currently, 61 communities are receiving funding under the Federal Government’s homelessness strategy, however, later in 2018, the government will be accepting applications from new communities interested in joining the efforts. Funding for the existing 61 communities will not decrease.

More Flexibility

Local governments will be given more flexibility to spend on their local initiatives and experiments. The Government of Canada supports the Housing First model; however, they chose to provide more leeway for communities to make decisions based on their unique local needs. Communities can choose to contribute their funds to particularly vulnerable populations such as young people, women fleeing violence, racialized communities, veterans, persons with disabilities, and LGBTQ2 communities. Communities can now use the funds to identify, test, and apply innovative solutions using evidence-based practices to attempt to achieve the best possible outcomes in preventing and reducing homelessness.

As part of a national effort, Reaching Home will be supporting knowledge collection and sharing to encourage a more streamlined and coordinated effort to address homelessness. The strategy will introduce Coordinated Access to help communities shift towards a system-based approach. Coordinated Access involves the gathering and sharing of data of local homeless populations. While Reaching Home is a community-based approach it also incorporates a federal focus to ensure that people most in need are being prioritized and that individuals are being matched with the appropriate housing and services. The data gathered can be used towards guaranteeing equity and fairness within the Reaching Home strategy.