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HEALTH NEWS

Elizabeth Bennett, 66, stands in her apartment in Scarborough, Ont. on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2011. Bennett has been given a rent-subsidized home through a giant federal research experiment into how to best help the homeless. Once housed, they receive an array of social services and support to urge them towards more independence. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Elizabeth Bennett, 66, stands in her apartment in Scarborough, Ont. on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2011. Bennett has been given a rent-subsidized home through a giant federal research experiment into how to best help the homeless. Once housed, they receive an array of social services and support to urge them towards more independence. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Facts about pilot program At Home/Chez Soi

The Canadian Press
OTTAWA - The At Home/Chez Soi pilot project was started in 2008 with $110 million in five-year funding, through the Mental Health Commission. Here is how it works:

What: Traditional help for the homeless aims to resolve their underlying issues first. At Home/Chez Soi provides a home first.

Where: Moncton, Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg, Vancouver.

Who: Mentally ill homeless people, with emphasis on rural migrants in Moncton, visible minorities in Toronto, aboriginals in Winnipeg and people with addictions in Vancouver.

How: Clients are divided into two groups, one group acting as a control, receiving treatment as usual. The housing-first group gets choice of housing, usually an apartment or a residence. Usually, it's market housing, not social housing.

Subsidies: Participants pay about 30 per cent of the rent, the rest is covered by the program.

Treatment: Participants choose what kind of treatment they want, and how it will be delivered. Professionals visit at least once a week, to help with physical and mental health as well as life skills.

Why: Researchers hope the massive pilot project will prove housing-first is cost-efficient and can be carefully tailored to suit the needs of the most vulnerable populations in Canada.

Copyright The Canadian Press
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