Beyond Surviving: Identifying How to Support Individuals Living with Mental Illness and/or Substance Use Difficulties to Thrive Following Homelessness in Kingston, Ontario 

While unhoused, persons who have experienced homelessness are frequently consumed with securing the necessary conditions to meet their basic needs including finding a place to stay for the night, finding food, and keeping safe.

In other words, they are simply trying to survive. It is frequently assumed that when individuals secure a tenancy following homelessness, that their life naturally improves for the better in most or all areas of their lives. Unfortunately, recent research suggests that many people who secure housing after homelessness languish and continue to live in a state of survival. While the importance of supporting individuals to secure and sustain housing cannot be understated, other aspects of a person’s life including being integrated in their community, having enough money to pay for basic needs, attaining mental well-being, and having opportunities to engage in meaningful activities are similarly important. This report describes a participatory project aimed at identifying the strengths and challenges of the current system of support currently offered to individuals as they leave homelessness in Kingston, Ontario. We collected this information to inform recommendations for refining existing supports that will enable individuals to move beyond surviving after leaving homelessness and thrive in their community after.

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