TORONTO – On Friday January 21, employees at Liberty Housing Support Services (LHSS) were notified that the agency was shutting its doors on March 31.
Eleven supportive housing workers providing rehabilitation services and transitional housing to people struggling with mental illness were told that the agency was closing due to financial constraints. Staff reacted in disbelief. The occupancy average was almost always at capacity and the need for service high.
The permanent loss of 29 beds comes at a time when provincial mental health recommendations call for more supportive housing for people with mental illness. LHSS has a contract partnership with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) to provide five beds for clients upon discharge.
“At some point someone has to have the courage to stop the hypocrisy” said Warren (Smokey) Thomas, president of OPSEU. “We have government officials and mental health professional lining up to denounce the reality that people with mental illness end up in our shelters and in our jails and yet, the government stands by as mental health programs are being eliminated across this province.”
The closure follows on the heels of recent layoffs at the Regional Mental Health Centre in London and St. Thomas as well as job cuts at Whitby’s Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences.
Last year the Select Committee on Mental Health and Addictions produced its final report for the provincial government. One of its recommendations stated that additional supportive housing be created to support long-term and transitional needs for people with mental illness and addictions.