In 1976 a group of concerned citizens set out to address impacts of the de-institutionalization of mental health and psychiatric care in the Province of Ontario.
The immediate concern at this time was for psychiatric consumers who were being discharged from the hospital to the streets of Toronto. Many of these survivors would soon find themselves in a cycle of homelessness, poverty, increasing health issues and greater marginalization.
What started out as a grassroots movement with a few rental properties, supporting people to live in shared houses, grew to become Houselink Community Homes.
Over the next 35 years, Houselink would expand its supportive housing portfolio responding to the growing needs of this sector. Houselink helped to pioneer supportive housing in Canada, creating a new option for people leaving psychiatric institutions: a home that was permanent, affordable and supportive.
Today, Houselink owns and operates 22 properties across Toronto, and manages over 20 others through partnerships with private market landlords. Since 1977, Houselink has housed more than 2,000 people, served more than 60,000 meals and helped hundreds of individuals learn the skills necessary to find meaningful work. Yet, housing is only the beginning.
Houselink Community Homes has been recognized as leader in the field the field of supportive housing and recovery for people living with mental health and addiction issues. Through an innovative combination of housing support and programs, Houselink ensures that those most at risk of homelessness never again face life on the streets.
Here is a short-list of organizational milestones and continuous development of Houselink Community Homes since our inception over four decades ago:
- Houselink Community Homes established in 1977 to address needs of psychiatric survivors being released from institutions and/or hospitals in the City of Toronto
- Houselink acquires 10 houses and 7 small apartment buildings throughout 1980’s in neighbourhoods across the city.
- New housing developed in 1999 with 100 new units for those living with mental illness through partnerships with Sistering Hostel Outreach Program, Shared Care at CAMH.
- Added new units to the portfolio under Supporting Communities Partnership Initiative, SCPI and through relationships with private landlords.
- In 2001 Houselink was generously bequeathed a rooming house which was later developed into a self contained apartment building with funding from SCPI.
- Houselink awarded the Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association’s Award for Excellence in recognition of sound management, tenant participation and best practices.
- Houselink chosen in 2005 with funding under the Mental Health and Justice Initiative to provide an additional 80 housing units
- In 2006 Houselink received additional funding under this initiative for 16 more units.
- As of 2014, we have 450 resident members in our 22 owned buildings and an additional 20 lease-managed properties across Toronto.
- Another 100 non-resident, consumer survivors have joined Houselink as members to participate in Social Recreation & other support programs
- Over 2,000 members accommodated and 60,000 meals served