Understanding Community Integration in a Housing-First Approach: Toronto At Home/Chez Soi Community-Based Research

Linda Coltman, Susan Gapka, Dawnmarie Harriott, Michael Koo, Jenna Reid, Alex Zsager

Abstract


The Mental Health Commission of Canada’s At Home/Chez Soi project has taken a housing-first approach, providing approximately half of the project participants with housing as well as services that are tailored to meet their needs, while the other half have access to the regular supports that are available in their community. At Home/Chez Soi worked specifically with people with experiences of homelessness and mental health. The People With Lived Experience Caucus is linked to the Toronto site of the At Home/Chez Soi project and provides to all aspects of the larger project the perspective and advice of people who have experienced homelessness and used the mental health system. Given the opportunity to develop their own research project, the People With Lived Experience Caucus Research Subcommittee analyzed purposively sampled 18-month follow-up interviews from the At Home/Chez Soi Toronto evaluation in order to explore how the participants discuss and experience community integration in their day-to-day lives. Through our research we found that community integration is a complicated and non-linear process that is positively impacted by working toward the self-determination, independence, and empowerment of the project participants.

Keywords


community integration, mental health, homelessness, people with lived experience, housing first

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