When Madison was founded over 40 years ago, there were few services to support the thousands of psychiatric patients discharged from hospital through the Ontario government’s “de-institutionalization” policy. Without the supports they needed to live independently, ex-patients found themselves in a cycle of poverty, illness, homelessness and re-hospitalization.

To help break the cycle, a small group of social workers from the Queen Street Mental Health Centre started a home on Madison Avenue for adults discharged from psychiatric hospitals. By sharing responsibility for the household’s management, residents developed skills, confidence and connections with their peers.

By 1981, Madison had incorporated and was seeking new approaches to support people with mental health and addictions challenges.

In 1984, Madison opened one of Ontario’s first “high support” housing programs, with 24-hour staff to support ten adults.

In 1985 it approached the Ministry of Health and City of Toronto to operate an “ultra-high” support program for ten adults unable to leave hospital because their mental health problems were too complex for traditional high-support programs.

In 1986, it collaborated with Queen Street Mental Health Centre and the Supportive Housing Coalition to support another ten adults in their own apartments. Through other collaborations with St. Matthew’s United Church, Metro Toronto Housing Development Corporation, Community Housing & Support Services and CityHome, Madison created a full array of high-, medium- and low-support options in large and small houses, rooming houses and apartments.

Our colleagues in the mental health and housing sector recognize Madison as a founding member of the Ontario Federation of Community Mental Health and Addiction Programs, the Supportive Housing Coalition (now Mainstay Housing), and among the founding members of the Dream Team, a group of consumer/survivors who use their stories to advocate for more supportive housing.

Thirty years later, Madison continues to build on our tradition of innovation, collaboration and a commitment to our clients.

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