10/22/2013 05:55 EDT | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST

Housing First: The Best Way to Help the Homeless

On behalf of the Government of Canada, I applaud Chris Curry's work to help vulnerable Canadians in the National Capital Region.

By working with our partners and community organizations, we will continue to provide real and innovative solutions to those who need it the most. In response to Chris Curry's article published on October 16th, 2013, I would like to set the record straight and point out that our Government does indeed have programs geared towards helping homeless individuals with addiction and mental health issues.

Our Government's Homelessness Partnering Strategy (HPS) is a unique community-based program aimed at preventing and reducing homelessness by providing direct support and funding. Both Economic Action Plan 2013 and the Speech from the Throne demonstrate our Government's commitment to tackle homelessness with nearly $600 million in new funding over five years and a renewed focus on the Housing First approach.

The Housing First approach is a proven, evidence-based model that will deliver better results for the most vulnerable and those that are chronically homeless. One of the most notable examples is the Mental Health Commission's "housing first" pilot program in Montreal. A month after the program began, nearly all of the 280 participants were housed in permanent accommodations and two years later, almost 80 per cent of those participants are still housed. These outcomes are also consistent with the results of projects in France and Finland.

We know that chronic homelessness is a challenge that is complicated by social issues like addiction and mental health. Safe, stable housing is an essential element in addressing homelessness and the problems that can often come with it. This is why the HPS takes a Housing First approach with a focus on chronic homelessness -- giving people a place to live first, and then providing the help they need to stabilize their lives.

Through the HPS and the Housing First approach, our Government remains committed to helping the most vulnerable Canadians achieve self-sufficiency and participate fully in our society.

Organizations that help the homeless