The role of transitional housing in health and recovery from homelessness, poor health and substance use

To end homelessness, we need a good understanding of what works and for whom in assisting individuals to transition from homeless to housed. In 2008, the Victoria Cool Aid Society initiated an innovative transitional housing program for people recovering from homelessness, poor health and substance use. The program was expanded in 2010. Transitional housing is one approach to supporting men and women in their efforts to leave emergency shelter and enter housing. Although transitional housing has been demonstrated to be effective in fostering transitions, little is known about staff and resident perspectives on the role of transitional housing programs or how experiences may vary with gender and substance use background.

Within a framework of community-based participatory research (CBPR), this project explores the role of transitional housing both from the perspectives of individuals who are or have been in transitional housing and front-line workers. We are specifically seeking to answer the question: What are the factors in transitional housing that foster or inhibit transitions out of homelessness for men and women and those with or without problematic substance use?

Funding body: The Vancouver Foundation

Progress to date: A public forum was held in the fall to engage the community in discussion of the role of transitional housing in a Housing First environment, with a focus on the integration of harm reduction strategies. Data collection and analysis are complete, with two papers in process.