September 15, 2017

Ontario Continuing Support for Innovative Housing Solutions for People with Developmental Disabilities

Developmental Services Housing Task Force Projects Demonstrating Successful Results

Ontario is providing an update on the Developmental Services Housing Task Force demonstration projects and is committing ongoing funding to support people who are now living in their new, individualized housing arrangements.

Since 2015, the ministry has supported the implementation of the 18 demonstration projects for creative, inclusive and cost-effective housing arrangements for people with a developmental disability, through recommendations provided by the province’s Developmental Services Housing Task Force. Ontario will be doing a third-party review and evaluation of these projects to inform how they might be expanded or replicated in other parts of the province.

Successful projects are already emerging:

  • The Bridges to Housing project in Toronto which is providing housing for homeless individuals with developmental disabilities who may also have other behavioural and mental health needs.
  • The Housing is a Community Issue project in the Durham Region and Leeds & Grenville which has dedicated housing coordinators who are helping families access community resources to find and/or create housing that would best suit the needs of individuals with a developmental disability.
  • The Smart Support project in Essex County which is using innovation and technology to equip living spaces and individuals with devices that assist adults with a developmental disability in their everyday lives such as tablets and smartphones programmed with special apps to assist in their everyday living.

Each of the 18 projects represents a cross-sector collaboration with a developmental service agency and/or a local government, an educational institution or private organization.

Investing in residential supports for people with developmental disabilities is part of our plan to create jobs, grow our economy and help people in their everyday lives.


“There is no one-sized fits all solution to housing for those with developmental disabilities. The solution is finding residential supports for these adults through creative partnerships and innovation. By developing and experimenting with different models and ideas we have a greater chance at meeting the unique needs of a wide range of individuals.”
- Dr. Helena Jaczek, Minister of Community and Social Services

“At its core Smart Support: Technology Enabled Services is all about inclusion in a modern society. Using technology as a tool for supporting people has been transformative in the lives of so many people receiving services, enhancing communication, self-determination and personal control over supports. Right fit  technologies have better addressed the goals of each person receiving services and have empowered  access to very individualized supports that occur when the person wants and needs support, rather than all of the time or just in case.  This project has already demonstrated the great potential to transform some traditionally rigid and expensive models of support into more sustainable, inclusive models that are receiving excellent reviews from the people receiving support, from families and from direct support professionals.”
- Nancy Wallace-Gero, Executive Director, Community Living Essex County

“In Durham region, partnership with families is key when thinking about home, housing and support. In addition, the two part-time housing coordinators provided by Housing Task Force funding have been instrumental in bringing families together through monthly meetings. Over 30 families have learned and shared many kinds of housing models to more fully understand creative financing options.  They are now looking to encourage personal networks of family, friends and neighbours so that people are truly part of their neighbourhoods and community, and to lay out modest individualized support budgets that supplement or combine natural supports with paid support.”
- Janet Klees, Executive Director, Durham Association for Family Respite Services

“The Bridges to Housing (B2H) project aims to better understand and support adults with developmental disabilities experiencing homelessness. The cross-sectorial partnership between the City of Toronto, Developmental Service Ontario Toronto Region (DSO TR) at Surrey Place Centre, Community Living Toronto, Inner City Family Health Team as well as St. Michael's Hospital's Centre for Urban Health Solutions successfully developed a robust and effective pathway to diagnosis and care through DSO TR within a homeless shelter environment. Our experience with the project has shown that rapid access to primary care, case management, housing and mental health supports not only improved housing and health outcomes, it has saved lives. The B2H team is thankful to the MCSS’s Developmental Disability Housing Task Force for supporting this vulnerable group.”
- Dr. Sylvain Roy, Clinical Lead, Bridges to Housing Program

“Because the housing needs of Ontario adults with developmental disabilities are so great, every step forward deserves to be celebrated.  The 18 innovative projects recommended by the Developmental Services Housing Task Force and funded by the Ministry of Community and Social Services are cases in point: on one hand, they are already providing the kind of real and meaningful support that will allow individuals to move toward greater independence and quality of life; on the other hand, experience in these projects will help fuel more creative approaches to meeting the needs of others as expansion and replication are considered.”
- Ron Pruessen, Chair, Developmental Services Housing Task Force

Quick Facts

  • The Developmental Services Housing Task Force is a cross-sector group assigned to assist the Ministry of Community and Social Services with addressing housing opportunities for adults with developmental disabilities.
  • Since 2015, the ministry has provided $5.6 million to support implementation of the 18 demonstration projects for creative, inclusive and cost-effective housing arrangements for people with a developmental disability and their families
  • Ontario provides funding for residential supports for more than 18,000 adults with developmental disabilities.
  • The government will be conducting a full third party review and evaluation of all 18 projects, beginning this fall. Outcomes will inform the ministry’s decision-making about how successful projects might be expanded or replicated in other parts of the province.

Learn More

Lyndsay Miller, Minister’s Office, 416-325-5450
Kristen Tedesco, Communications, 416-325-5178