'Homeless hotel' in Vancouver part of national study

The aim is provide housing and food as a first priority before trying to address mental illness issues.

Vancouver (25 Aug. 2010) - An old hotel in downtown Vancouver opened its doors to the homeless this week as part of a five-city federal research project to study the relationship between homelessness, mental illness and addiction.

The renamed Bosman Hotel Community is a four-story inn at 1060 Howe St. It will become home for 100 of Vancouver's hardest to house citizens. The rooms are small but furnished with the basics of a bed, lamp and bathroom. Residents will also be provided food. Similar facilities have been opened in Winnipeg, Toronto, Montreal and Moncton.

The Mental Health Commission of Canada is using the experiment to study the effect of a 'Housing First' approach to treating the mental health problems of chronically homeless people. The aim is to ensure that they have housing and food as a first priority before attempts are made to address mental illness issues.

Jeff West, the Bosman's project manager, says 500 homeless citizens with addictions and mental health problems were selected as potential candidates for the hotel. One hundred of them were selected and will be permitted to stay for a maximum stay of three years.

After that, the national study ends and the owners of the Bosman, Prima Properties Ltd., will convert the building into condominiums.

The other 400 study participants in Vancouver, while not moving into the hotel, will also be receiving some help. Half of the group will receive assistance "without housing" and the remaining half will be placed in "scatter housing" around the city while being connected with case managers and mental health support workers.

Nationwide, a total of 2,285 people are participating in the three-year 'At Home' study.

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The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

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