Homelessness requires a shift in our collective approach to a widespread social challenge. Fredericton has joined the movement of communities in developing time-bound, targeted plans to end homelessness. 'The Road Home', presents our vision of being a community where all who find themselves homeless have options for housing and support, with the ultimate goal of ending homelessness. With housing builds underway, we are raising funds to provide the supports to ensure people remain housed.
730 Frederictonians experienced homelessness last year. Research shows approx. 15% become trapped in a cycle of homelessness. The chronic portion of the population have complex challenges that prevent success in non-supported environments, finding themselves back in shelters or sleeping outside. A study found that homeless men had a 32% chance of surviving to 75 and a 60% chance for women. Chronic homeless individuals consume over 50% of resources used in the homeless serving system.
The principle of Housing First (HF) is that people are better able to move forward if they are housed. This is as true for people experiencing homelessness and those with mental health and addictions issues as it is for anyone. Housing is provided first and then supports are provided including physical and mental health, education, employment, substance abuse and community connections. Housing First has been demonstrated to be an effective response to persistent, long-term homelessness.
We can end homelessness. Studies show a $10 investment in HF solutions for chronically homeless individuals yield $21.72 in social net savings in reductions in emergency and institutional service use. A Fredericton-based HF-style test site realized an 83% reduction in emergency services in its first year of operation. Costs vary, but the pattern is clear: homelessness is expensive, can be solved and substantial cost savings of about 40% can be achieved by investing in supportive housing.