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Breaking the Cycle: The Long-Term Cost Savings of Supporting Single-Parent Families

Updated: Apr 15



This is the second of a four-part series,

Empowering Change: Exploring Sustainability and Social Impact at Home Suite Hope


by HSH Executive Director Sara Cumming, PhD



Welcome to the second blog in our four-part blog series brought to you by Executive Director, Dr. Sara Cumming.  As our organization navigates through the ever-evolving challenges of funding, Dr. Cumming aims to address the queries surrounding our surplus and fundraising endeavors. Join us as we delve into the intricacies of Home Suite Hope's financial position, exploring the factors influencing our grant applications and donation drives amidst increasing reserves. Through this series, we endeavor to uphold transparency and offer insights into the financial dynamics shaping our mission.


In the first blog post, Surplus for Sustainability: The Profit Paradox in Non-profits, our ED discussed the importance of long-term planning with our finances to ensure we can provide our participants their full wrap-around supports throughout the four years of their programming. In this second blog, we discuss the full costs and supports of Homeward Bound Halton.


Home Suite Hope Executive Director Dr. Sara Cumming

In a world where the stability of housing can dictate the trajectory of one’s life, Homeward Bound Halton stands as a testament to the power of a Housing-First approach.


This award-winning, four-year wraparound program is built on the foundational belief that securing safe and stable housing is the first, crucial step towards independence and self-sufficiency for single-parent families. By integrating housing subsidies with access to essential services such as subsidized childcare and Ontario Works, Homeward Bound Halton provides more than just a roof over their participants’ heads—it offers a lifeline.


The journey from dependence to independence through this program is meticulously structured. Beginning with securing stable housing and connecting participants to immediate resources, the program unfolds into active engagement with life skills classes, post-secondary education at Sheridan College, and eventually, immersion into the workforce. This holistic model not only addresses the immediate needs of the participants, but also equips them with the skills, education, and support network necessary for long-term success.


However, the landscape of social assistance and housing affordability in Ontario poses significant challenges. The average single-parent household on social assistance garners an annual income of roughly $23,102, with the specter of intergenerational reliance on social support looming large. The costs associated with this reliance are staggering, both in financial terms and in the perpetuation of social disadvantage. Homeward Bound Halton's participants, if left to navigate this system without intervention, could collectively amass millions in social assistance costs over the years.


Yet, Homeward Bound Halton represents a beacon of hope and a model for breaking this cycle. The program's comprehensive approach to addressing the root causes of poverty—beyond just financial hardship—demonstrates a commitment to not only alleviating the symptoms, but also curing the disease.


By providing participants with the tools to achieve educational and professional success, the program has shown remarkable outcomes, including a 100% success rate in transitioning graduates off social assistance and into full-time employment pre-pandemic.

The rising housing costs post-2019 have introduced new challenges, making it harder for participants to immediately transition away from housing supports. Despite these hurdles, the program's core mission remains unchanged: to empower participants to build a sustainable future for themselves and their families.


In total, the program costs $51,319 per participant per year, $27,284 of which we have been able to secure from our partnerships with the Halton Region, Sheridan College, and the Oakville Community Foundation.  This means that we must raise $23,995 per family per year through grant writing and fundraising. In any given year we have 17 participants just in the Homeward Bound Halton program (translating to $407,915 annually) and another 13-20 in our other less costly streams of programming (case management-driven versus housing-driven).  These costs account for the core expenses of the program, but not for all the other resources we provide annually such as grocery gift cards, feminine hygiene products, cleaning and household products, moving expenses, marketing and advertising, vehicle upkeep and maintenance, credential renewals etc. While this appears very expensive, it is much less cumbersome for our communities than generational receipt of social assistance.

 

Homeward Bound Halton exemplifies the transformative power of a comprehensive support system for single-parent families navigating the complexities of poverty and social assistance. By investing in these families, the program not only reduces the financial burden on the public purse, but also contributes to building a more equitable and empowered society. The success of Homeward Bound Halton beckons for the adoption of similar models nationwide, highlighting the undeniable link between providing stable housing and breaking the cycle of poverty. Unfortunately, this type of transformation requires a financial investment, we just wish that our provincial and federal governments saw the value in investing in these types of transformative programs as a means to ending social assistance receipt.  In the meantime, we will continue to battle for funding through grants and donations.


Please watch for upcoming Blog posts in this series appearing Fridays throughout April.


To contact Sara, email SaraC@homesuitehope.org


To donate via CanadaHelps, click CanadaHelps


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