Community Homes for Opportunity 2022 Highlights

After starting services in October of 2021, the Community Homes for Opportunities (CHO) Program celebrates its first year in review. Operated by the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Durham, CHO is a modernization of the former Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences (Ontario Shores) Homes for Special Care Program (HSC). The program consists of 12 homes throughout Durham Region and Toronto and serves more than 120 residents.

CHO is a recovery-oriented person-centred supportive housing program. The program assists residents with serious mental illnesses who require 24 hours supportive care by providing appropriate housing and support services.  These supports help residents achieve and maintain mental health stability and provide housing that is safe and affordable.

Residents have access to both in-home and community support services designed to improve and/or stabilize people’s physical and mental health, foster independence, and promote participation and integration into the community. Services are flexible, reflecting the unique and changing needs of the individuals served. The home environment empowers residents to be active participants in their planning and encourages them to make individual choices based on their needs. The program offers opportunities for residents to enhance the quality of their daily living, their personal growth and development, and to improve life skills through participation in a variety of life-enriching activities.

 Since its launch in October of 2021, the CHO program has received a great deal of interest from community partners and other housing providers. During its first six months, CHO received 54 referrals and filled 14 vacancies.

The majority of CHO clients are supported by Ontario Shores’ outpatient psychosis clinic which provides registered nurses, nurse practitioners and psychiatrist’s support. Clients also have access to other outpatient services such as vocational support, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT).  CMHA Durham and Ontario Shores meet monthly to coordinate the best possible support for clients.

The CHO program strives to build strong relationships with homeowners and home operators through frequent communication by phone, email and home visits. Homeowners are provided with training on privacy and mental health and a manual that outlines program expectations, wellness plans and home compliance needs. In the future homeowners will receive training in medication management, de-escalating potential situations, and a review of the Landlord and Tenant Act.

The CHO program ensures clients and homeowners are aware of the services offered at CMHA Durham including the Recovery College Wellness Centre, Nurse Practitioner-Led Clinic (NPLC), Case Management and Community Services and an independent partnering pharmacy within the main building at 60 Bond St West. CHO employees’ complete referrals for clients to CMHA Durham services and encourages clients to attend and participate in special client events and celebrations.

During its first year, the CHO program successfully transferred clinical information from Ontario Shores to CMHA Durham and hired Case Managers to co-design the model of care. This included completion of the Ontario Common Assessment of Needs (OCANs) a goal assessment treatment plan for all case management clients and the development of rental agreements and service support agreements for clients. After it was identified that residents would benefit from budgetary support the CHO program created a financial trustee role. To help manage the influx of applications the program implemented a waitlist and intake application management system and developed a home application package for new homeowners wishing to join the CHO program.

Moving forward, CHO plans to introduce additional client assessment tools to determine further goals and readiness for change while implementing a care team model to provide seamless case management supports for residents. CMHA Durham has been recognized by Accreditation Canada for its use of the care team model.

CMHA Durham looks forward to an exciting second year for the CHO program as it continues to provide exceptional care for clients and community partners in 2023!  To read more about CMHA’s Durham please visit

Testimonies – “I just wanted to reach out and thank you for all the work you do on behalf of my son and others within CHO. I was part of the Zoom meeting and found your presentation extremely informative. I was also glad to find out what each organization does for the mentally ill, homeless people and families and feel that with your continuing support, my son can live a better life. Thank you.”