Unique Wrap-Around Services to Help Vulnerable York Region Residents at Risk of Eviction and Homelessness
The number of individuals who are at risk of losing their housing due to clutter and unsanitary living conditions has been a growing problem in Ontario. Many mental health and housing security experts agree that the isolation and lapse in community services that occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to this visible increase in clutter tendencies and hoarding disorders.
For over twenty years, VHA Home HealthCare (VHA) has provided decluttering and deep cleaning services to help eligible individuals maintain safe and stable housing in the City of Toronto. These supports were extended to the London and Durham regions shortly after, and this Fall, will now also expand to York Region. For now, Vaughn, Richmond Hill and Markham have been identified as the priority areas.
After successfully securing funding through York Region’s Community Investment Fund and the Reaching Home Program administered by Infrastructure Canada, VHA is ready to roll out the Rebound and Reclaim Program.
“People who access our services may be dealing with mental health concerns or physical limitations which can hinder their ability to maintain their living spaces,” said Samantha Jani, Manager of Client Care and Operations for VHA’s Community Support Programs.
“Generally, what we see happen in these situations, is that the extent of the problem isn’t identified until there’s a severe infestation, fire, injury or another crisis event. For the community that we support, there often isn’t the time or financial means to clean up these spaces before they are faced with eviction and the imminent risk of homelessness,” she said.
Renato Alampay, who is the Program Supervisor for this initiative, says that what makes VHA’s Rebound and Reclaim Program unique is the concept of wrap-around support services.
“Bundling the services that are available—which in this case includes deep cleaning, de-cluttering and short-term homemaking—helps the client to be more successful. This builds a client’s capacity to live independently, reduces the likelihood of relapsing back to the same behaviour and leads to better health outcomes,” Renato said.
Depending on an individuals’ specific cleaning, safety and mental health needs, home support workers, extreme cleaners, clutter coaches and mental health case workers are available.
“If a client could really benefit from homemaking support to help maintain a clean and safe space that meets Public Health requirements, they can access these services without a separate referral,” said Renato.
To meet more long-term needs after these supports have finished, this program also provides links to other community services. Currently, this support is free for eligible individuals who meet the program criteria, which includes: at risk of eviction, over the age of 18, low income and resident of York Region.
“It is definitely preferable to keep individuals housed, rather than trying to support someone through rehousing. When someone loses their home, there just aren’t many options as we continue to navigate an affordable housing crisis,” Samantha Jani said.
“As we launch this new and vital program, we’re focused on how to reach the population who we know would benefit from these services. By developing relationships with property managers, building superintendents, housing help centres, community legal clinics and front line support staff in this region, we can identify at-risk individuals and literally wrap our services around them,” she said.
To learn more about VHA’s Rebound and Reclaim Program, employment opportunities, or for an assessment and to determine eligibility, please call (416) 489-2500 ext. 4192. For more information about VHA’s Community Support Programs, visit: https://www.vha.ca/services/community-support-programs/.