Ottawa Pays for Homes for Addicts

Ottawa Pays for Homes for Addicts

By Fionna Agomuoh 04/02/12

A province-funded program will take 96 Canadian addicts off the streets, hopefully helping them to get clean.

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Chris was homeless or in jail for 40 years.
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Drug addicts in Ottawa are being given homes in order to help them on the way to recovery, in a "housing first" approach. The Sandy Hill Community Health Center has established the Intensive Care Management program in order to get addicts off the streets and into better living situations. The $550,000 program—funded by the province—has enough money to house 96 people and has so far matched 66 with places to call their own. Residents receive money toward their rent, to ensure that they have no problem staying housed. "By giving them housing and helping them maintain it, you're giving them pride in themselves," says Jean-François Martinbault, who runs the program. "You're giving them a reason not to use drugs, you're giving them hope in the future," he says. Chris, 58, has seen a drastic change in his lifestyle since moving into his own apartment near Dow’s Lake last November. He spent the last 40 years of his life either homeless or in jail, and says that having his own apartment equipped with a bed, microwave and air conditioner is better than sliced bread. He receives social assistance as well as $450 per month to pay his rent, but he also maintains a part time job and volunteers at a needle exchange program. Although Chris still uses drugs, he's managed to stay away from hard drugs since participating in the program. "I'm not an angel, but it gives me purpose and meaning," he says. "It gives me a home."