Supported Housing for Individuals with Mental Illness

SHIMI is an innovative solution to a pressing community need for individuals who are living with mental illness and in need of supportive housing options. The project provides high quality, secure and independent housing together with a range of responsive supports to adults living with, and recovering from, a mental illness.


It Starts At Home

There is now a considerable body of research to support the advantages of, and the need for, community-based support for individuals living with mental illness. 

Full partnership, respectful communication, autonomy, choice and stable, decent and flexible housing are the cornerstones of this approach.

The voices and experiences of people who live with mental illness have been, and will continue to be, the driving force of the SHIMI project.

Housing supports within the local community are far more effective and efficient than institutionalization or congregate-style housing for most. Community support options provide persons living with mental illness the possibility of choice and the ability to exercise these choices thereby creating as independent a lifestyle as practical, building self-confidence, empowerment and ontological security. This, in turn, reduces the negative impacts of mental illness on the individual, family, friends and the community as a whole. The first building block for community-based support is secure housing.

The SHIMI model follows the practice of integrating small numbers of apartments seamlessly and unobtrusively into the community. The housing is secure both in the physical sense and in the financial sense:

Physical Security: The apartments and buildings are finished to a mid-market standard and professional property management ensures that the rent is collected, the bills paid and quality standards are maintained.
Financial Security: All shelter costs (rent, heat, power, water) are included for a rent of $535 per month. This is the maximum shelter allowance available to single individuals through the Province of Nova Scotia’s Income Assistance Program. Fixing the rent at the maximum shelter component ensures that the balance of an individual’s income can be used for food, clothing, transportation, etc.
Furnishings: Through the generosity of the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia and the Cape Breton Mental Health Foundation, each new apartment is furnished with a full suite of furniture and appliances, including a washer and dryer.

Evaluative Research 

In 2013, a team of researchers (Catherine Leviten-Reid, Cape Breton University, Pamela Johnson, Cape Breton University, and Michael Miller, Crossroads Clubhouse) undertook a formal assessment of the SHIMI program. Their report presents a summative and formative evaluation of the Supported Housing for Individuals with Mental Illness (SHIMI) initiative. In this evaluation, the housing experiences of tenants, as well as the effects of these housing experiences, are explored. To learn more about their findings, their report can be accessed below. 

Supported Housing for Individuals with Mental Illness: An Evaluation

All of these units would not have been acquired, renovated and furnished without the program funding and capital contributions of the HRSDC Homeless Partnership Strategy, the Affordable Housing Initiative of the Province of Nova Scotia, the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia, and the Cape Breton Mental Health Foundation.