Housing Destigmatization in Fredericton
Prepared by Rachel Burke et Xiuming Shi for MP Jenica Atwin
HOMELESSNESS IS NOT A MORAL FAILING.
Homelessness is not a direct measure of someone’s individual work ethic or morality, but like all other parts of our lives is an interplay of structural factors, system failures and individual experiences that can lead into a state of homelessness.
To simply blame homelessness on an individual’s morality is to ignore that our societal and economic systems are built with easier access for some and not others. This blame of moral failing ignores the individual experiences of those who are more involved in our systems, such as child welfare, correction programs, mental health addiction services, and adverse childhood experiences, that are not the choice of the individual. These experiences happen at a relatively young age and get lost in an inadequate system.
- Transition from child and family services/welfare
- Inadequate discharge planning from hospitals/care facilities/programs
- Transition from mental health/addictions/correction facilities
- Lack of support for immigrants/refugees
Economic and Societal Issues
- Lack of adequate income
- Access to affordable housing
- Rising cost of food
- Health supports
- Experiences of discrimination
- Traumatic events (house fire, job loss, intergenerational trauma, historical trauma)
- Personal crisis (Domestic violence, family break up)
- Mental health and addictions (often stem from trauma)
- Disabilities and physical health problems
- Domestic violence
Steps to homelessness are a combination of factors.
Individualized paths make it hard to define “steps” to becoming homeless. Rather it is a combination of personal experiences that interact differently for each individual that can contribute to homelessness status.
- Race or ethnicity
- Income status
- Gender Identity
- Family dynamics
Modified Maslow’s Hierarchy
- Self-esteem, self-actualization
- Love and belonging relationships/socialization
- Safety, employment/education
- Access and adequacy of health and social services
- Basic needs (food, clothes, housing)
The list above outlines the items needed to be satisfied before proceeding to higher levels. Based on this framework, the policies/practices set in Fredericton’s homeless shelters impede those who have issues with addiction and mental health, when they need housing and primary survival needs to set the groundwork to receive those supports.
30-35% of the homeless population experiences mental health illnesses.
More than 20% of the homeless population are impacted by substance use.
Policies and practices leave out a significant portion of the homeless population from getting help.
Healthcare accessible to homeless population via four walk-in-clinics.
Barriers to receiving healthcare:
- Basic needs not fulfilled
- Exposure to stigma
- Fear of judgement during appointments
- Belief that their health is not as important as others’
Solutions: Housing First Model (HFM)
HFM: provide permanent housing to the homeless population with mental health and addiction issues.
- Immediate access to permanent housing with no requirements
- Consumer choice and self-determination about where to live
- Recovery orientation, focus on wellbeing of client
- Individual client-driven support, recognition that each client is unique
- Social and community integration, access to meaningful engagement/activities
It targets root problems.
- Reactions to homelessness costs the Canadian government $7.05 billion annually
- Housing first costs $4 billion annually and has better outcomes
- Every $10 invested in HFM saved $21.72 in healthcare, social services, and justice system costs
It reduces services costs
- John Howard Society estimates housing program reduced service costs by 53% and saw:
- 97% reduction in ER visits
- 91% reduction in hospital stays lasting more than one night
Main takeaway : Prioritize the investment in preventative measures that are more effective than reactive responses to the issues surrounding homelessness.