To see if housing is a key contributor to bringing stability into a person’s life, researchers hooked up some people in Vancouver, Canada, who were suffering from mental illness and drug addictions, with free housing in apartments spread throughout the city.

The study revealed that the people, who were given free housing for a period of five years, stabilized their lives and showed great improvements in dealing with their mental illness and drug addictions. They managed to coexist peacefully with their neighbors as well!
The study was federally funded with $110 million and the Vancouver portion took 200 chronically homeless people off the streets and housed them in various, random apartments throughout the city. As opposed to the control group of 200 homeless people not given housing, the 200 that received homes were much more stable, committed less crimes and relied less on social services.
It is also evident from the study’s financial aspect that providing high-needs, homeless people with housing costs about the same as leaving them on the street without shelter, due to the high costs of rotating them through homeless shelters, emergency rooms and jails. It cost $28k per year to provide housing to a person, which resulted in each person using $24k less from social services. So you could say that just a $4k investment per person each year makes an enormous difference in their life. The lives of the study participants became much less chaotic, their mental illness improved, drug addictions were decreased, and their overall quality of life was much improved.
Taken from this study can be the idea that social housing is not something to be feared, but rather something to embrace as a community. It can improve the lives of the people directly and indirectly affected by mental illness and drug addictions, which is definitely something we all want!
Written in the report is, “Historically, projects in Vancouver that have tried to house people who were formerly homeless or experiencing mental illnesses in neighbourhoods outside of the Downtown Eastside have met opposition and sentiments of ‘not in my backyard’. That has not been the case for (Vancouver At Home) participants, who have successfully joined neighbourhoods scattered throughout the City of Vancouver.”
SFU health sciences Professor Julian Somers was the lead investigator for the study. Of the results derived from the five year study, Somers said, “I think people now understand to a greater degree that housing preference matters. Regardless of the state of your mental health or your economics, within reason being able to exercise choice is pretty important to thrive in life.”
This is how you help out homeless people suffering from mental illness and drug addictions like a boss!