The Homelessness Outreach Support Team (HOST) is a formal partnership of service providers that works to better serve Oceanside’s most vulnerable and hard to house population. Through inter-agency collaboration and support services, HOST is able to help access and maintain housing and improve health outcomes.
In 2020 the collaboration consists of workers from Island Crisis Care Society, Society of Organized Services, Forward House Community Society, Island Health Mental Health and Substance Use Services, Canadian Mental Health Association and the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. (See Partners page for details)
HOST meets weekly or biweekly to triage client needs, provides seven-day-a-week support to clients and assists in communication among agencies to ensure coordinated and informed support is delivered with a client-centered focus. The team also works closely with Orca Place, supportive housing, helping select and support residents.
People are usually evicted from housing for one or more of the three reasons below. HOST works to support clients in addressing these issues to maintain their housing.
1. They don’t pay the whole, or any rent
HOST provides a subsidy to ensure affordability (rent is kept to 30-40% of the clients’ income) and helps clients to have rent paid direct from Income Assistance.
2. Property is not maintained
HOST provides mandatory home visits to ensure the home is being maintained. The inspection works to protect both the client and the landlord. Plumbing, appliances and smoke detectors are inspected, which allows for timely repairs. Cleanliness is coached and hoarding is monitored as it may contribute to a poorly maintained home.
3. Not being a good neighbour
HOST supports clients to understand expectations of others around being a good neighbour. Most common issues include: noise (especially during quiet hours) and negative interactions, often around guests, common areas, garbage or recycling.
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 type of support can change based on client needs. As such, different agencies may be more or less involved with people as their needs evolve.
Most clients are successful in maintaining their housing with HOST support, but sometimes there are grounds for eviction. A housing eviction 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.
* Watch a recent HOST success story video produced by the United Way.
Currently (November 2020) HOST has been at full capacity for several years. The team continues to support 13 housed clients and works closely with Orca Place, helping select and support residents. Regular meetings provide a valuable forum for communication and cooperation among the organizations that provide services to many vulnerable community members.
Current clients continue to receive rental subsidies and support but there hasn’t been any new actual HOST subsidies or ongoing funding since 2015.