Housing for Persons with Mental Disabilities
A home is the base from which we have the security to build our lives as we choose. We should be able to choose where to live, whom to see, and how to behave in our home. In our home we should have the privacy to reflect and relax in peace. We should have the autonomy to decorate and maintain our home as we see fit. Our home is the focus of our social network. These are all arguably essential prerequisites of mental health and well-being. They should be seen as necessary components of housing programs, not as privileges to which people “graduate.” Security, choice autonomy, financial self-sufficiency, privacy, and control are all part of the healing process. They should never be denied people, except at times of extreme risk to self or others.
Therefore, the CMHA National Board endorses the following principles:
- Housing must be inclusive of all persons in a community. This includes persons with disabilities and those without: old, young, and middle-aged persons; those with a lot of money to spend and those with little: families, couples, and singles.
- Housing must be affordable, available, and accessible for everyone.
- Communities must ensure pleasant, comfortable and permanent housing for all persons. This housing must be adequate in terms of quality and quantity.
- People are entitled to choose whatever type of housing they want.
- Different types of housing should be integrated within all residential areas of a community. For example, single family dwellings, group homes, boarding homes, co-operative housing, and apartment complexes must be a natural part of every neighborhood.
Recommendations Regarding Persons With Mental Disabilities
In addition, the National Board of the CMHA endorses the following recommendations regarding persons with mental disabilities.
- The housing choices of those with mental disabilities should be as varied and attractive as those of all citizens. Discrimination of any kind is unacceptable.
- People have a right to adequate housing and, independently, a right to adequate treatment and support services as needed. Changes in the need for services should not result in a person being forced to move.
- Where possible, mental health agencies should use existing housing, for example, public housing, non-profit housing agencies, and private rental housing.
- If an agency does establish the need to buy or lease housing, the person living in the residence should have a secure tenancy agreement with the landlord.
- The person with the disability should be seen as the primary decision-maker with respect to housing choices, with assistance, if required, from his or her personal support network.
- Users of a housing program should be centrally involved in the planning and operation of that program.
- Concerned individuals and groups should work towards advocating legislative changes which would lead to greater housing options, more affordable housing for people with disabilities, and funding for support services in the community.
- People should be offered support in their own homes, including support to help them build their own social networks.
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