In 2009, MOSH began providing frontline health care services to street involved and homeless people. This work, and the people we supported, taught us many important lessons. One key lesson involved the need for supports and supported housing for people with complex health care needs. In 2015, MOSH started providing housing support to people experiencing chronic homelessness through the creation of MOSH Housing First. Over the past seven years, MOSH Housing First has continued to learn many more important lessons, one being that it is essential that non-profits must own and provide supported housing for some folks to succeed.
And now we offer a multi-project umbrella of supported housing. We strive to provide support and housing based on the principles of housing first, namely:
- Support that is trauma informed and culturally safe,
- Support that centers around individual choice and harm reduction,
- Support based on a belief in everyone’s ability to recover and maintain housing
- Supports that are separate from the housing
Staying true to our history, we prioritize supported housing and/or housing support that meets the needs of the specific communities who experience homelessness, as well as those who face complex health care realities. Specifically, our projects focus on supporting the African Nova Scotian, Indigenous, and Trans and gender diverse communities; as well as folks with complex health care needs, and struggles with substances and mental health (also known as ‘high acuity’) from any community.
Our five projects include two support programs, two housing projects and one temporary housing project.
Housing First – Our humble starting point on ‘the path to housing’, this project is entering its seventh year. The team consists of a manager, 4 Intensive Case Managers (ICM’S) and 2 Housing Support Workers (HSW’s). The team is also supported by an Occupational Therapist – a position funded and seconded from NSHA.
This team supports around 100 individuals a month on the various caseloads to secure and maintain their housing. They prioritize individuals and couples with multiple barriers (struggles with substance use, chronic health and mental health) who are African Nova Scotian, Indigenous and/or Transgender and gender diverse. They continue to partner with The Friendship Centre to ensure clients can connect to cultural supports, primarily through an Intensive Case Manager that sits with both housing teams.
The Housing First team works out of the 107 – a space at 107 Albro Lake Rd. in Dartmouth that they share with the Adsum housing team, Dr. Fraser’s Pain Clinic, the Brotherhood Clinics and (soon) NECHC’s mental health walk-in clinic.
Our new, ground-breaking harm reduction, peer supported housing project. The Overlook will house 65 individuals who struggle with active and problematic drug and/or alcohol use, as well as have chronic health conditions, have lengthy experience with homelessness, and/or are actively engaged in sex work. We are partnering with Affordable Housing Association of Nova Scotia (AHANS) (the landlord) to offer 24/7 on-site, on-demand harm reduction supports to tenants.
Once fully operational, the Overlook team will consist of 6 full-time and about 5-6 part-time Harm Reduction Housing Workers (who will ensure tenants have access to supports 24/7 and come with a wealth of lived experience) and a Nurse-led clinical team that includes RN’s, a Harm Reduction Counselor, PCW/CCA’s and an OT. The Overlook will also support individuals in units who meet our eligibility criteria and require additional supports because they are dying, are chronically palliative or are in need of respite. Their care will be coordinated by an End of Life Care Coordinator and a small team of CCA’s and peers volunteers.
The Blue House
Our supported housing project for African Nova Scotian individuals who face multiple barriers to housing. Once open, the Blue House will house 11 individuals in 4 separate apartments. They will be supported by ICM’s or HSW’s from the Housing First Team as well as a number of community partners. Since purchasing the property we have prioritized bringing together a community advisory. Together, we have built a shared vision and commitment to creating a supported housing project that provides tenants an opportunity for healing and well-being.
Baby Blue House
Our (newest) supported housing project for African Nova Scotian men. Baby Blue House will house 7 individuals in a communal living environment, with each tenant having their own room with a lock plus access to a shared kitchen, 2 shared bathrooms, living room and garden area. Our work with the Blue House advisory committee will allow us to get this project open in the next few weeks. Tenants will have access to support from ICM’s or HSW’s on the Housing First team, as well as support from the PAUSE Clinic, community partners and a peer live-in.
Our short-term, master-leased supported housing building. The Hostel is set-up as traditional rooming house, with lots of communal spaces. It has provided a temporary solution for individuals experiencing homelessness since January 1st, 2020. The 14 individuals housed are supported by a Housing Support Worker and a peer live-in, in addition to those individuals that are on HSW or ICM caseloads with the Housing First team. Top of mind in each of these cases is much work behind the scenes to try and secure a permanent housing solution for this group of folks.
Location & Contact
EJ Davis, Director of Housing
Heather Jarvis, Manager of Supported Housing
Ty Silver, Housing First Manager