“We’re looking for some way we can intervene, and then stabilize someone who is struggling and not have them experience homelessness.”
Dave, who owns Hanlyn Property Management Ltd., has been working with Mission Services’ Men’s Services to help individuals at risk of losing their housing by referring them to the Diversion and Early Intervention program.
As a former police offifficer, Dave oftften dealt with those experiencing homelessness who were in crisis, but he admits that he never stopped to really think about how someone got there. “When I got into property management, I saw how it happens – how it can happen to perfectly functional people,” Dave commented.
More and more, Dave says he sees people on the street, struggling to get by. As the city gentrifies, more people are moving here, which continues to raise housing costs. As a property manager, Dave realizes that, “unfortunately, as the median rent rises, landlords know they can ask more. They’re confident they can rent units for what they want and to who they want. This squeezes people out.”
The issue of housing in Hamilton is something Dave cares about and he wishes he had the answer. In addition to having a government-led affordable housing strategy, he thinks getting landlords and property owners involved is a part of the solution. But there needs to be assurances. “You need to take away some of
the risks. Landlords need to know they have support,” such as understanding how social assistance and subsidy programs work.
He also believes that “assistance shouldn’t always be a short-term influx of cash. Let’s sit down and look at their whole financial picture to see what they can really afford.”
The views that Dave expresses are some of the reasons why, with the help of the City of Hamilton, Mission Services’ Men’s Services implemented their Diversion and Early Intervention program, led by the Diversion Case Manager.
“We like to call it early intervention. The City says diversion, but I see it differently,” says Corinna, Mission Services’ Diversion Case Manager. “It extends past what diversion is. It extends into community and into the shelter.”
Early interventition can happen before someone enters into staying at the shelter, or in the early stages of them being in the shelter. There may be people who ask for supports to help them keep their housing. Or, they may show up, having exhausted all of their options. In many circumstances, they most likely don’t know about the supports available to them.
Corinna works with these individuals to identify these supports, and what they may need to find housing. Though housing is the focus, early intervention also involves connecting men with other community resources, such as financial aid or Addictions Counseling, to help ensure they have all their needs met.
Even with supports in place, it can be difficult to help some of these men find housing. “The biggest challenge is identifying landlords who are willing to take people, and then finding accommodations within a clients’ budget. That’s the common theme in Hamilton; the housing market,” Corinna observed.
However, Corinna has found that there are landlords like Dave who want to help, and has been able to develop relationships with them. Corinna meets with landlords to help them understand the processes involved, and to support the landlord and the men she’s helping.
With constant interaction, Corinna makes meaningful connections with those she helps, which can inspire them to continue setting and reaching goals with her and other shelter staff.
“There was an older gentleman who had accessed shelter before, but who came back. We helped him obtain housing. Now he comes back to see me and we work on little things together. He’s gotten his CPP, his ODSP, so now he has more income. He’s also high on the access to housing list. That’s been a good relationship. He comes by to update me on his situation, and I help him to navigate next steps.”