Homelessness Outreach Support Team (HOST) is a formal partnership to better serve Oceanside’s most vulnerable population who experience homelessness and instability by helping them to access and maintain housing, and to improve health outcomes through the provision of inter-agency collaboration and support services.
The inter-agency collaboration is made up of workers from Island Crisis Care Society, Society of Organized Services, Mental Health and Substance Use Services, Canadian Mental Health Association, and Forward House Community Society. HOST allows clients to have access to 7-day-a-week support, and assists in open communication among agencies to ensure coordinated and informed support is delivered with a client-centered focus.
People are usually evicted from housing for three reasons. HOST works to support clients to learn how to address these issues to maintain their housing.
- They don’t pay rent or can’t afford the whole rent – HOST provides a subsidy to ensure affordability (rent is kept to approximately 30-40% of the clients’ income) and helps clients to have rent paid direct from social assistance.
- Property is not maintained – HOST provides a mandatory home visit (minimum 1 per week) to ensure that the home is being maintained. Inspection works to protect both the client and the landlord. Plumbing, appliances, smoke detectors are inspected which allows for timely repairs. Cleanliness is coached and hoarding is monitored as they may contribute to a poorly maintained home.
- Not being a good neighbour – HOST supports clients to understand expectations of others around being a good neighbour. Most common issues include: noise levels (especially during quiet hours), guests, garbage/recycling, and negative neighbour interactions.
Referrals can be made by any case manager or community agency, and clients are not required to have an Island Health Case Manager to be a HOST client. The team provides wrap-around supports which help clients who are experiencing mental health and/or substance use challenges.
Establishing a stable and predictable relationship is an important part of HOST. The amount or types of support can change to reflect the clients’ needs. As such, different agencies may be more or less involved with clients as their needs evolve. Most clients are successful in maintaining their housing with HOST support, but sometimes there are grounds for eviction. Although, an eviction from housing is not an eviction from the program. There is no time limit on the program; clients can voluntarily leave when they feel stable and ready.