Journey Home

Moving people from poverty to possibility

Journey Home is the result of United Way’s vision – that everyone in our community deserves a safe place to call home.

Issue

Home is where the heart is! There’s no place like home! But for some Saskatoon citizens those sayings represent a wishful dream, a longing for what might be, rather than a reality.

The point-in-time homelessness count conducted in Saskatoon on June 22, 2015 found 405 adults and 45 children experiencing homelessness on that day. Of these individuals, 211 (47%) were chronically homeless.

For those frequently struggling with homelessness the challenges they face are complex. Often they have serious mental health and addictions issues as well as poor physical health.

The systems in our communities are not designed to adequately support these individuals. Jail cells and emergency rooms are used as temporary housing and the perpetual use of shelters is increasing. These are not solutions to homelessness.

Action

Homelessness is unacceptable for anyone in our community.

In April 2014, United Way partnered with Saskatoon Crisis Intervention Service (SCIS) to deliver a Housing First program in Saskatoon.  SCIS was a natural partner given their extensive experience working with a highly vulnerable population of our city. The program focuses on our most vulnerable citizens who have been chronically homeless, most of whom also struggle with complex issues related to mental health and addictions.

This program, named by United Way as Journey Home, is based on the international Housing First model, which moves people from homelessness directly into housing without any barriers.

The name Journey Home reflects the program’s purpose – to give people who have experienced chronic homelessness an opportunity to have a place to call home, while receiving support that helps them through their journey to stability and recovery.

Journey Home has become a critical part of an emerging network of Housing First programs in Saskatoon. Journey Home is the one highly specialized program in the network that focuses on chronically homeless individuals with the most complex needs.

Results

Journey Home is changing lives.  As of February 2017, 50 of our city’s most chronically homeless citizens have been given housing and offered supportive services through Journey Home; the majority of whom have been homeless for 3 to 5 years prior.

Without a place to call home, these individuals were living rough on the streets, couch surfing, staying in emergency shelters or motels, or in hospitals receiving acute psychiatric care/treatment. With the safety of shelter and support provided by trained and highly skilled social workers, Journey Home participants have been able to better and more appropriately utilize public services. A key benefit of Journey Home is the reduction in the usage of publicly funded services that are often overly used due to the conditions related to homelessness. *data available through United Way

Publicly Funded Service Usage Data

Based on 17 Journey Home participants who gave consents to have their information tracked and shared, there was a 59% service usage reduction within the first year of participation in Journey Home, compared to the year before. The total cost avoided was $249,150. (See Table 1 for details.)