Strachan House is an innovative program created to house people experiencing chronic homelessness in Toronto. Opened in 1996, Strachan House uses a low-barrier approach to provide supportive housing to those living with complex mental health and addictions issues, and who have been unsuccessful in maintaining housing in the past. Strachan House residents are considered the “hardest to house”.
Based on the former StreetCity project, Strachan House is a former warehouse converted to have 83 units for long-term housing and 5 shelter beds. Strachan House has a unique design featuring 11 houses, with a shared kitchen and washrooms in each, that act as micro-communities within the larger community of the building. In 1999 Levitt Goodman Architects, the architects who transformed Strachan House from warehouse to housing, won the Governor General’s Award for Excellence for its design.
Staff work with residents on life skills, hygiene, financial literacy, tenant rights and obligations, and more. Residents can engage with supports as little or as much as they want, and maintain their housing so long as they are not causing harm to others. Strachan House also has partnerships with a variety of community agencies to provide on-site supports for those who may face barriers in accessing off-site supports.
The Rooming House Project is a collaboration between Dixon Hall, Ecuhome and Homes First to provide housing stabilization and improve the overall well-being of current and future tenants of Toronto Community Housing Corporation’s rooming houses. This program works to build community, and uses one-on-one case management to identify, support and achieve tenant goals. The Rooming House Project includes a team of specialists in Housing, Harm Reduction, and Hoarding and Pest Control who will identify and address client needs. Areas of focus include income and financial literacy, access to health and medical care, and food and social supports. This program is funded through the City of Toronto’s Tenants First Program.
Based out of our housing properties, the Harm Reduction in Supportive Housing Program works to increase the knowledge and awareness of harm reduction strategies around substance use and sexual health for our resident population. This program uses a peer-based model to provide consistent access to education, counselling and supplies for residents, and includes training for staff to build a supportive harm reduction environment. Homes First works with The Works, Parkdale-Queen West Community Health Centre, and Agincourt Community Services, and is funded through Toronto Urban Health Fund.
Homes First also works with the Scarborough Addiction Service Partnership to provide addictions counselling and harm reduction services to clients in our Kennedy and St. Clair shelters.
The Homes First Follow-Up Support is a mobile team that provides in-home, follow up support services to clients referred by the City of Toronto. The goal of this program is to break the cycle of homelessness and improve housing stability by working with clients around income supports, health care and medication regiments, life-skills and employment, tenant rights, and mental health, addictions and harm-reduction supports. Over time, clients will transition to using supports in their community to remain housed long-term and lessen the burden on the shelter system. The Follow-Up Support program is funded by the City of Toronto.
Homes First receives funding from the United Way Greater Toronto to run supportive programs such as Hoarding Intervention, Life Skills and Meal Club. These programs help residents maintain safe stable living spaces, provide access to regular nutritious meals to promote healthy lifestyles, and help them gain new skills around living independently.
Based out of our Shuter Street housing property, Journey Home Hospice is a partnership with Homes First, Inner City Health Associates, and St. Elizabeth Health Care to provide those without homes a place to die peacefully, rather than on the streets, in hospitals, or in shelters. The Journey Home Hospice uses a low-barrier model and clients receive 24-hour healthcare supports, as well as support from staff and volunteers who are trained in harm reduction principles and trauma informed approaches. The hospice currently has four units, and will be expanded to 10 in the next two years.