Public Health announces launch of ‘Home Takeover’ pilot project
Home takeover is a situation that’s happening in our communities. The Grey Bruce Health Unit is spearheading a pilot project to help raise awareness of this emerging issue and create important response tools.
A home takeover occurs when a vulnerable homeowner or tenant is forced to accommodate an unwanted guest in their home.
The perpetrator could be a relative, friend, or acquaintance of the home’s legitimate occupant, who may have initially been invited to stay over – often to fulfil a personal, social, or economic need of the occupant. For example, the perpetrator may supply the occupant with drugs in order to stay in the home and then “take over” the home as a place to conduct illegal drug activity. The perpetrator may also be invited to stay in the home to help with rent or because the occupant is lonely.
The situation becomes a home takeover when the perpetrator refuses to leave and their actions or activities make the occupant feel unsafe, uncomfortable, or threatened in their own home. Threats, violence, manipulation, or financial exploitation are among the reasons the occupant may accommodate the perpetrator or the individual may have a drug dependency, mental health issues, or have experienced homelessness in the past.
“Through this pilot project, we hope to shine a light on the issue of home takeovers, which primarily affect our most vulnerable residents,” says Grey Bruce Health Unit Public Health Nurse Lisa Alguire, co-lead of the pilot project.
“Our goal is to reduce the incidence of home takeovers in Grey-Bruce by building this community awareness and through the development of a multi-stakeholder response framework and other resources.”
In the fall of 2021, Grey County Housing began seeing home takeovers happening in community housing neighbourhoods. Home takeovers negatively impact not only the tenant or homeowner, but also their families, neighbourhoods, and the individuals taking over the unit(s).
To better understand the existing response and gaps in responding to a home takeover, 14 community partners came together to form an advisory committee, which includes housing organizations, mental health services, police, fire, and other community organizations. A survey found that half of the partners had not heard the term home takeover, but nearly all had dealt with a home takeover within the past 12 months.
A comprehensive plan was developed to reduce the incidence of home takeovers. Project working groups created several resources to raise awareness of the issue for organizations and the general public.
A literature review and interviews with people with lived experience were conducted to enhance local knowledge about home takeovers. This informed the development of an innovative multi-stakeholder Response Framework. The response to a home takeover requires all community partners and the public to work collaboratively.
“Your home should be a place you feel comfortable and safe. This Pilot Project has brought awareness to an issue in our community and collaboration towards solutions,” says Sharon Irwin, Tenant Services Manager with Grey County. “If you are experiencing a home takeover, or are at risk of losing control of your home, there are resources to help you. Reach out to your housing provider or someone you trust for support.”
It’s important to recognize the signs that someone could be at risk of a home takeover. For example, you may notice a change in the person’s behaviour or appearance, increased activity happening around the home, or a sudden change in the person’s financial situation. Targets of a home takeover are encouraged to talk to someone they trust. That might be a support worker, landlord, family member, neighbour, or friend.
Not sure whom to call? Call 211, press 1 for English and listen for the recorded message to reach their Housing Helpline.
“Community Navigators at 211 are available 24/7 to help people find local programs and services to help. This includes assisting individuals who may be experiencing a home takeover or loved ones of someone who is in a home takeover situation,” says Pam Hillier, Executive Director of Community Connection/211 Central East Ontario, a key partner in the local home takeover pilot project.
The Grey Bruce Health Unit has created a Home Takeover Pilot Project webpage that contains information on home takeovers as well as project reports, and resources.
Attachment: Backgrounder – Defining and recognizing a home takeover.
For More Information:
Denis Langlois, Communications Co-ordinator, Grey Bruce Health Unit,
519-376-9420 or 1-800-263-3456 ext. 1315,