Housing with Supports were initially created as a municipal response to meet the housing need of impoverished frail/elderly adults. In more recent years, the program has evolved to become permanent housing for vulnerable adults with a wide range of special service needs, such as persons with mental illness, physical and/or developmental disabilities and/or frail elderly who, in the absence of such support, are likely to experience significant health and related difficulties and lose their housing.
A 2009 Minister of Health and Long-Term Care and Ministry of Community and Social Services study carried out by St. Michael’s Hospital found:
- Most tenants in Ontario Housing with Supports are younger than 65;
- Most tenants face significant physical health problems, or developmental disabilities. Serious mental illness is prevalent;
- Over a third of tenants have a history of homelessness. The average tenant has lived in Housing with Supports for 5 years. This suggests that those at risk of homelessness are able to remain housed in Housing with Supports;
- Participation in community life and social/recreational activities outside the Housing is extremely limited, and participation in the paid workforce is almost zero;
- Housing with Supports staff assist tenants in a number of ways, including helping with medications, accompanying them on health visits, and providing social support;
- Most tenants feel socially well-connected to family, friends, and Housing staff. About one-quarter of tenants have little contact with friends or family;
- Tenants perceive the quality of their housing to be quite good. Most express a preference to stay at their current residence.