The Rotholme Family Shelter Housing First program that we know of as PHAF (Prevention of Homelessness Among Families) has three components: Housing Diversion, Housing Selection, and Housing Stability. I am going to focus on Housing Stability.
Housing Stability includes the things necessary for families to retain their housing when it is found. Housing Stability is essential to Housing First, yet, housing stability and support is often forgotten in the Housing First rhetoric where the emphasis is on getting housed.
Families that enter Rotholme are given the opportunity to choose to participate in our Housing Stability program, which includes, among other things, access to housing allowance payments as well as a continuing relationship between one of our caseworkers and the family once they leave Rotholme.
Housing allowance payments (HAP) are intended to assist families in affording rentals. It is a fact that today, social assistance payments through Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Support Payments are insufficient to pay market rents. It is a fact that there is a very long waiting list for social housing or rent geared to income housing. Through City of London funding, we have been able to offer HAP for almost two years. The hope is that HAP are transitional, that they will eventually end, though they may continue for a long time because poverty does not end when a family finds a house.
Housing Stability is intended to support families in retaining their rental units, by meeting regularly and being available when requested. We do not simply help find a place to stay and then forget about the family. Our commitment is for the long term. That commitment is necessary to a good Housing First program.
So what about PHAF? The average monthly HAP per family are $404. The size of families we serve range from two to seven, with an average of four people. We were serving 20 families with HAP, however, while writing this, the number has changed to 19 because the parent of a family obtained a job and can now pay the rent without assistance. Good news indeed!
Mission Services of London, Rotholme – engaging families, building community, serving community – loving God, loving others.
Written by Peter Rozeluk, Executive Director