Project aims to help with transition from homelessness to housing
LONDON, ONT. -- Eric Todd experienced homelessness for five years when he was a young adult, now he's working to help others in the same situation.
“When you’re homeless that means you’re in and out of shelter,” says Todd. “You may have an apartment for a couple months and then you go back to it. There’s very much a homelessness mentality and a street life mentality that only the immediate day matters.”
It’s been almost 10 years now that he’s had his own apartment, but admits the transition from homelessness to having a home wasn’t easy.
“There’s just so much trauma and issues that led up to no longer having a house and apartment and people just need time to heal.”
Todd is part of team of community members, which include the City of London, Canadian Mental Health Association, Salvation Army and Western University, that has launched a new project to examine approaches to help people thrive following homelessness.
“There are actually a lot of people who are housed and we think that their problems are solved because they now have housing after homelessness, but often for people that’s where their journey begins,” says Dr. Carrie Marshall, a researcher at Western University.
Marshall says there are many key factors that affect people in this new transition.
“Not being integrated in their communities, using more substances and their mental illness symptoms can sometimes even worsen when they’ve moved into their housing.”
The program director at the Salvation Army’s Centre of Hope, Sarah Collins, says some clients who leave the shelter to live in their own homes often end up back in the shelter.
“In order to remain successfully housed in their community and to thrive in their community, it’s more than four walls [and a roof] over your head. It’s really about community integration.”
By connecting with individuals with lived experiences as well as service providers, the project's research team is hoping to be able to design a model that will target these issues, with the ultimate goal of achieving more successful traditions for people into housing.
The community-based participatory research project launched in June 2020 in both Kingston and London. This is an ongoing project which is expected to be completed in the fall of 2021.