Increasing inflation and home prices have been front and centre in the provincial election campaign. Missing in the debate is the significant economic and mental health impact of investments in “supportive housing.”
Canadian Mental Health Association Muskoka-Parry Sound urges party leaders to consider the benefits of supportive housing whenever they speak about home ownership, increasing housing supply, jobs and a healthy economy.
Supportive housing allows people who may need on- or off-site mental health or addictions supports to live independently in the community. These supports are multidisciplinary and can include a social worker, nurse, occupational therapist, psychiatrist, peer support worker and addictions specialist.
Supports can also be socially-based such as homemaking and personal care, financial literacy, life skills and employment support.
Evidence indicates that providing supportive housing as a key first step in treatment can help those living with even severe mental illness remain stably housed.
Every $10 invested in supportive housing results in an average savings of $21.72 across the health care, social services and justice systems. “The economy and mental health and addiction are not mutually exclusive subjects,” said Camille Quenneville, CEO, CMHA Ontario. Evidence shows that building and providing supportive housing leads to individual benefits, economic spinoff and, most notably, cost savings for the taxpayer:
• For every $1 invested in housing construction, there is $1.52 multiplier effect on the local economy
• Providing social housing (i.e. supportive housing) costs $613 per month
• Providing a shelter bed is $2,100 per month or three times more expensive.
• Providing a correctional bed is $4,300 per month, seven times more expensive
• Providing a hospital bed is $13,500 per month, 22 times more expensive
With an estimated 25 to 50 per cent of homeless people living with a mental health condition, this issue is important to many communities throughout Ontario. CMHA urges the public to vote for the party that will invest significantly in the community mental health and addictions system.
For more information about the “I choose” campaign, visit www.ichoosemha.ca or follow #ichoosemha on social media.