Poverty and homelessness continue to grow in our community. We were in a crisis before the pandemic, now escalated through rising rents, evictions and renovictions, and increased cost of living – with stagnant social assistance rates punishing the poorest.
Unity Project emergency shelter, supportive housing and housing stability services works to end the experience of homelessness for those in our care, including those who are chronically homeless, veterans, individuals who identify as Indigenous, seniors, individuals living with a disability, newcomers, individuals who identify as LGBTQ2S+, single adults and couples, and individuals with pets.
Our services are mandated through City of London Homeless Prevention System to prioritize people with complex housing needs, specifically people with health issues, couples, and people with pets. Intake is managed through Coordinated Access.
Over the past three years, over 1000 individuals have benefitted from Unity Project’s Housing First, low-barrier shelter and stability leadership and expertise. Between April 1, 2020 and September 1, 2021, emergency shelter served 210 unique individuals, with a 32% achieved housing rate among those exited shelter, including:
Unity Project is committed to a Housing First approach with emphasis on supporting housing stability and a systems approach to prevent experiences of homelessness and create a direct path from homelessness to housing. Over the last decade we developed a toolkit to inform the re-design of our services and in 2018, transitioned to operating fully as a housing focused emergency shelter using this comprehensive, innovative model that helps residents secure and maintain stable housing.
Housing First principles are actioned by promoting self-determination and choice, applying a harm reduction and trauma-informed approach, employing motivational interviewing and assertive engagement practices, providing individualized and strengths-based support, emphasizing housing as a basic human right, and focusing on moving individuals from shelter to permanent housing with wraparound supports as quickly as possible. Further, staff use the Homeless Individuals and Families Information System to support a collaborative and shared case management approach, enabling participants to advance their housing support plan in-the-moment, at any moment.
Divert people from shelter wherever there is opportunity; Stabilize participants in their moment of crisis by meeting basic needs; Engage participants in process towards housing and stability, and; Utilize every available community resource to prevent or to end the experience of homelessness.
Our goal is to:
Make a stay at our shelter comfortable, productive, and as short as possible.
While Unity Project provides a welcoming environment where residents can feel safe and supported, shelter is not a home nor long-term solution. We believe in using a Housing First approach to solving homelessness, as Housing First and providing housing with supports has been proven to rapidly end homelessness, reduce use of public and emergency services, contribute to system savings, and improve individual quality of life and community integration.
Unity Project staff have developed expertise in applying Housing First best practices, built our capacity as a housing-focused emergency shelter, and become a leader in applying Housing First principles in an emergency shelter context.
Housing with supports is the solution to homelessness; Income the solution to poverty.
Income and housing are the foundation from which we begin to support individuals as part of community. People must be supported in their physical, mental and social well-being to maintain stability, both as recovery from the trauma of homelessness and prevention against a constant cycle of new intakes to the crisis.
Public policy needs to reflect the unique mental and physical health challenges that disproportionately affect people experiencing homelessness and poverty. We need to treat substance use as a health issue. We need to ensure housing for all instead of the commodity it is today and raise social assistance rates so that people simply pay the rent.
Unity Project can help the individual end their experience of homelessness and can help our community develop better collaborative approaches and systems locally, however only broad systems change will achieve the ultimate goal for ending homelessness.
Give your support and raise your voice… because homelessness is solvable.
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Make a one-time gift, become a monthly donor, sponsor an event or give securities… There are many ways for you to help provide relief of homelessness.