Reaching Home

Reaching Home

Reaching Home and Coordinated Access in the Yukon

In the spring of this year, Medicine Hat (AB) reached the goal of 0% chronic homelessness: https://bfzcanada.ca/wp-content/uploads/Medicine-Hat-AB_Chronic-Functional-Zero-Case-Study.pdf

This community-changing goal was achieved using Coordinated Access which is an integrated process that streamlines access to resources in a community. Its purpose is to enable sharing of information between service-providers, so that any person accessing services only needs to tell their story once and is rapidly given complete and relevant information about available supports in the community. HIFIS, (Homeless Individuals and Families Information System) is the data management system at the heart of Coordinated Access. It also measures individual and community outcomes for the purpose of providing data to decision-makers. Coordinated Access is a core element of the National Housing Strategy: A Place to Call Home, and implementing it is a condition of Reaching Home. Community-wide implementation of Coordinated Access will lead to fundamental system changes in the Yukon, making the elimination of homelessness a real possibility, not just a dream.

In 2015, Kwanlin Dun First Nation and the City of Whitehorse held a series of community engagements (called the Vulnerable People at Risk Forums) to create a plan to end homelessness. A working group was formed, which developed Safe at Home: A Community-Based Action Plan to End and Prevent Homelessness in Whitehorse in 2017 with the commitment of all participating parties to work towards implementing the Action Plan.

The Housing Action Plan for Yukon was also released in 2015, which is a 10-year plan with the 2025 vision of a ‘Yukon where a diversity and abundance of housing options increases the health and stability of all individuals and communities’ (Government of Yukon, Yukon Housing Corporation (2015), Housing Action Plan for Yukon 2015 – 2025. You can find the link here: https://yukon.ca/en/your-government/find-out-what-government-doing/read-housing-action-plan-yukon

The Safe at Home action plan is the Community Advisory Board’s endorsed strategy to address homelessness. In 2018 the Council of Yukon First Nations’ leadership table also endorsed the plan, adopting it as a tool that could be used across Yukon communities. A Safe at Home implementation manager was hired in 2018 and the Safe at Home team has been leading the community’s work towards ending homelessness since 2018. They have been stewarding the Whitehorse By-Name List for people experiencing homelessness, carrying out the Point in Time Count and spearheading efforts to bring together all service providers in one system – Coordinated Access. The Safe at Home Society was established in November of 2020, with its office located at 208 Alexander Street.

At the time of writing, there remains fundamental work to be done before Coordinated Access becomes fully functional in the Yukon. HIFIS needs to be made accessible to all service providers and governments in the territory, starting with Whitehorse. In the meantime, we encourage people experiencing homelessness to contact the Safe at Home Society and ask about the By-Name List. This list matches available housing and supports with people experiencing homelessness. The 2021 Point in Time Count identified at least 151 people experiencing homelessness in Whitehorse. Housing choices are few which makes effective sharing of information particularly important. Speaking to someone from the Safe at Home Society will bring people experiencing homelessness one step closer to finding a home.