Founded in 1972, AIS was a pioneer in the development of innovative programs to help people impacted by mental health challenges to participate more fully in their communities. Many of our projects such as supportive housing and case management were the first of their kind in Ontario.
In the 1970’s, as psychiatric hospitals closed in Ontario, patients were forced to live without adequate support services. It was recognized that there was a need to avoid the consequent revolving door syndrome of frequent hospital admissions and homelessness. In response to that need, AIS developed an innovative solution to this social issue and became a leader in providing supportive housing.
1972 -1976: AIS pioneered a community-based mental health service that was well-received by clients and mental health providers. Board volunteers created a supportive housing model. They oversaw the property management of seven apartment units above a store in the east end of the City of Toronto. This successful experience established a model and standard that many others have followed. Volunteerism was a mainstay of AIS. For over four years, the agency operated solely with the compassion and energy of volunteers!
1986: AIS expanded the successful model. A 15-unit apartment building in Riverdale was built providing permanent, affordable, supportive housing to persons who had transient living situations.
Community support workers were hired to offer a range of services to the tenants such as assessment, supportive counseling, advocacy, and skills teaching.
1995: AIS built a 13-unit building located in Toronto’s Beaches neighbourhood to extend this independent model of supportive housing to couples and families.
1997: AIS created a community development program to complement the support service and to provide tenants with opportunities for developing leadership skills.
2001: AIS purchased a mixed-use residential/commercial building in the Annex to address the growing problem of homelessness on the streets of Toronto. This innovative funding model was a first for the supportive housing community. Revenue from this commercial enterprise has provided additional funds. We hope to one day leverage this building in order to expand our housing portfolio.
2003: AIS converted a building in downtown Toronto which had been vacant, boarded up and derelict for over a decade. This building was converted to 20 apartments and included a rooftop terrace for outdoor amenities.
2008 – 2013: AIS currently provides accommodation, information, and support to over 105 people. Specially equipped units for 10 persons who are deaf or hard of hearing were designed to meet their unique needs. Support staff members are proficient in American Sign Language.
2013: To meet the needs of an aging demographic, AIS had plans to build two accessible apartment units in the rear yard at the Riverdale building. Unfortunately, due to the high cost of construction, this project was not able to proceed If funds become available in the future, AIS would like to proceed with this project . This would provide existing tenants an opportunity to ‘age in place’ in a community of their choice.
As AIS is still committed to meeting the accessibility needs of the tenants. We have recently improved the building by adding the following accessibility features: automatic door openers, grab bars, accessible height toilets, additional railings, non-slip tub surfaces, visual warning strips on stairs and improved corridor lighting. Additionally, plans are underway for the creation of a Healing Garden, in the rear yard, that will give the sense of an urban oasis.
AIS continues to provide high-quality supportive housing as evidenced by the excellent results of a recent Tenant Focus Group and Survey. Tenants have reported improved overall mental well-being and a sense of purpose as a direct result of having permanent, safe, affordable housing and access to support services
AIS was featured in Toronto Star on May 23, 2008, to view please click here.
AIS has released it's 2016 Spring Newsletter.