A place to call home for the homeless



Young runaways, aboriginal people, people who have lost their jobs or who have lived through a painful separation: homelessness can take many forms.

The cost of the intervention, a subject of some concern before the start of the project, has not proven to be any higher than the cost of homelessness.

The At Home/Chez Soi project is a new type of intervention for street people that aims to change their lives for the better. Christopher McAll, scientific director of the Centre de santé et de services sociaux Jeanne-Mance (affiliated university centre), explains: "For three years, in Montréal, 260 homeless people with moderate to severe mental health problems have been provided with housing and support. Of these, 80 also receive nursing and psychiatric care. Another group of 180 participants with the same profile agreed to stay in the street to act as a control group. Their lives have continued to deteriorate, while the lives of those with housing are improving. However: while having their own home may get them off the street, other problems may arise. Relations with landlords or other tenants are not always easy, for example."

The cost of the intervention, a subject of some concern before the start of the project, has not proven to be any higher than the cost of homelessness: "Eric Latimer, research professor in the Department of Psychiatry at McGill University, is also the principal researcher for the At Home/Chez Soi project in Montréal. He and his team have noted that this intervention has reduced the need for other services – shelters, hospitals, etc. – to such an extent that the overall cost is the same as that of traditional services," explains Dr. McAll.