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Supportive housing is a home. Edmontonians who live in supportive housing find safety, stability, and a community of healing where they can recover and grow.

Supportive housing is not a shelter, drop-in, halfway house, or any other type of temporary accommodation. It is long term housing where residents sign a lease and pay subsidized rent while receiving the 24/7 health, wellness and life skills support they need to succeed. 

Increasing the supply of supportive housing is a key priority of the City’s Affordable Housing Investment Plan (2019-2022) and the plan to end homelessness in Edmonton. The City helps build supportive housing by providing land and/or grants to non-market housing providers. 

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Current Projects

Learn about the approved development and public engagement currently underway.  

Learn more about the approved development and read the community-specific What We Heard report. 

Learn more about the approved development and read the community-specific What We Heard report. 

Learn more about the approved development and read the community-specific What We Heard report. 

Learn more about the approved development and read the community-specific What We Heard report. 

Public Engagement

The City of Edmonton is committed to involving the community in its work. We seek diverse opinions so that a wide spectrum of information is available to decision makers. Learn more about public engagement.  

Public engagement on a Good Neighbour Plan for the Westmount site ended on April 13, 2021. A What We Heard report will be created and shared publicly. 

Public engagement for the first four supportive housing sites was held in 2020. Read the What We Heard report.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is supportive housing?

Supportive housing is a home. People who live in supportive housing find safety, stability, and a community of healing where they can recover and grow.  

Supportive housing is not a shelter, drop-in, bridge housing, halfway house or any other type of temporary accommodation. It is long term housing. Residents sign a lease and pay rent, while also receiving financial support and the 24/7 health, wellness and life skills support they need to succeed.

Who lives in supportive housing?

Supportive housing is for people who have experienced homelessness or are at risk of homelessness and need help to maintain their housing. 

Everyone’s path into homelessness is different. For some people, it’s a change in life circumstance like job loss or illness. Others may have mental or physical health challenges, sometimes compounded by trauma and addictions, that make maintaining independent living a challenge. Others may have aged out of the child welfare system with nowhere to go. 

Once in supportive housing, residents have their own apartment, financial support, access to services, and a community. For many people who have experienced homelessness, housing is not a destination but a route to regaining a sense of purpose and connection

How are residents selected?

Residents are referred to a supportive housing site based on their support requirements and what the specific site offers in terms of supports and programming. Resident choice is also a determining factor in their housing placement. 

The referral is part of a coordinated placement process done with Homeward Trust, Alberta Health Services and supportive housing operators. 

This process ensures that the supports on-site match the needs of the residents and that the residents are a good match for their neighbours within the building and in the larger community.

Who will run the sites?

Homeward Trust is a trusted community partner with the experience to deliver well-run supportive housing. Homeward Trust will act as property manager and select operators for each site through a competitive process. The operators will establish standards of behaviour for residents living in supportive housing. 

Who works in supportive housing?

Every supportive housing site is unique. The type of support and programming offered varies based on the operator’s mandate and the needs of residents. 

Staff who operate and provide services through supportive housing are skilled and well-trained. They may include medical professionals, social workers, and support staff who help with tasks like grocery shopping, accessing transportation, and applying for income assistance and other government programs.

Medication management may also be located on-site to help residents maintain their health and manage addictions. In some cases, medical professionals are on staff; in some cases they visit the supportive housing site on a weekly or biweekly basis to provide services to the residents. 

Psychologists and social workers may also visit a supportive housing site regularly to provide individual or group services to the residents. 

Each site will also have a property manager that works to foster residents’ independence, security, housing stability, and relationship within the community.

What is day to day life like for residents?

Life inside supportive housing is not much different from other living arrangements. Residents have daily routines, including meals, tasks or errands to accomplish, and time to socialize.

Some residents are focused on stabilizing and improving their health, while others are farther along in their journey and may be working, attending school or volunteering in the community. 

For many residents, this is the first time in many years that they have had stability and a permanent address. This often allows them to reconnect with family members and loved ones.

What support services are in place?

Programs and support services can include:  

  • 24/7 crisis services

  • Independent living skills

  • Medication management 

  • Mental health services 

  • Medical services, including home care services, continuing care, disability services

  • Cultural, ceremonial and spiritual practices 

  • Psycho-social, recreation or support group activities 

  • Community-based education, volunteerism and vocational planning 

  • Financial management 

All programs and support services linked by an individualized case plan.

Why does Edmonton need supportive housing?

Edmonton has made significant progress toward ending homelessness. But there are still around 2000 people with no permanent home, and more than 600 sleeping in shelters or outside on any given night. 

Individuals will always face the kind of challenges that lead to housing instability, but ending homelessness is possible. It simply means that any experience of homelessness is rare, brief and doesn't repeat. The City and its community partners are working to create a homeless-serving system and a supply of housing that allows us to quickly connect people with the support and housing they need.

To help achieve this, the City of Edmonton has a goal of developing 900 supportive housing units, in all areas of the city, by 2024. Together, the first five supportive housing developments will create 210 homes for people who have experienced homelessness. 

How were these locations chosen?

The City of Edmonton is committed to increasing the supply of supportive and affordable housing, and offers vacant, City-owned land and/or grants toward its construction. 

The City has a policy (C601) that provides guidelines for identifying appropriate sites for supportive housing. Ideal sites are ready for development, well integrated with the surrounding land uses and built form, and close to amenities and services for residents, like transit, grocery stores, and recreational opportunities, like rec centres, libraries and parks.

Will my property values be affected?

There is no evidence to suggest non-market housing, including supportive housing, negatively affects the value of surrounding properties. Residential real estate values, both for home assessment and sale value, are driven by local and global economic factors, rather than the introduction of new non-market housing in the community. 

Locally, factors that influence property value assessments include location and lot characteristics, like shape and size or whether it’s a corner lot, as well as proximity to commercial areas, transit infrastructure, utilities or ravines. The residents of a particular development, their income level or ownership status are not a factor in determining a property value assessment. 

In 2020, the City of Edmonton identified sales of nine homes located near non-market housing. All sale prices were in line with the City’s assessments and other sales in the area. 

Studies have consistently found that if non-market housing is well-designed, fits in with the surrounding neighbourhood, and is well managed, property values of neighbouring homes are not negatively affected.

How will this affect the safety of my community?

Social disorder associated with homelessness is a symptom of a lack of appropriate housing and support. Supportive housing is part of the solution.

We have no evidence to suggest that supportive housing increases crime or disorder; supportive housing has instead proven to reduce residents’ interactions with police. An analysis of a supportive housing site in downtown Edmonton saw a 46% drop in interactions between residents and police in the two years after they moved in compared to the two years before.

The City also analyzed the impact of non-market housing on the safety of five core neighbourhoods and found there was no correlation between crime and non-market housing, including supportive housing. 

Using data and analytics support from the Edmonton Police Service, the City studied how many police events, including drug-related activity, violence, and property crime, occurred between 2011-2018 around non-market housing addresses in 5 core neighbourhoods. The number of events at these sites were then compared to the number of total events in the neighbourhood where the site was located. 

Non-market properties, including supportive housing, were responsible for just 4% of the total number of police events for the five neighbourhoods, despite making up 12% of the total housing.

The City also examined data pertaining to bylaw complaints, including noise and graffiti, and found that non-market housing properties were responsible for just 1.3% of the total bylaw complaints in their neighbourhoods. 

 

What if the community has concerns?

The residents, staff and neighbours of supportive housing all have a shared interest in maintaining a safe environment. If a tenant’s actions put other tenants or the community at risk, the operator will respond.  

Additionally, each site will have a Good Neighbour Plan, a tool for developing and maintaining a positive relationship between supportive housing and the community. 

A Good Neighbour Plan outlines the shared commitments of the service provider and community, and identifies who the community can contact with concerns. It will include an issue resolution process through which the community and supportive housing site can work together to resolve any concerns.

Community members are invited to provide input on a Good Neighbour Plan as part of the City’s engagement process.

Virtual Information Sessions

Watch Q&As with local experts to learn more.

Supportive Housing Stories

Learn about the lives of Edmontonians in supportive housing. These stories were collected by service providers at four different supportive housing residences. Names have been changed to protect privacy. 

 

Harris moved from river valley encampments to supportive housing

Harris grew up in New Brunswick, but moved to Alberta to work in a machine shop around 30 years ago. In 2001, he lost his job, and with few connections and resources, he found himself homeless shortly thereafter. He spent almost 7 years living in encampments in the river valley and struggling with addiction.

In 2014, Homeward Trust’s Pathways to Housing program staff met Harris and helped him access a place in supportive housing. He has experienced significant health challenges in recent years and has lost much of his mobility, but the supports and access to medical care available in supportive housing keep him comfortable. 

It took time for Harris to adjust to living in housing. After so many years sleeping outside and being constantly on alert, he struggled to feel secure in his apartment, and for the first year he always kept his things in a backpack by the door, afraid he’d be forced to leave. But in the 5 years he’s lived in supportive housing, he’s become adjusted, and likes the security of knowing he’ll have a safe place to sleep at night. 

Harris describes himself as a private person, but he enjoys the camaraderie of supportive housing, and having a place where he can put his things and enjoy some privacy. Because of his disability, he doesn’t go out much, but he likes to drink coffee from his favourite mug and watch black and white movies with other residents during the day, particularly Westerns. He’s also developed an interest in gardening and is looking after many plants in his apartment.

In terms of services, Harris gets help with accessing disability-friendly transportation when he needs to travel, grocery shopping, managing his AISH cheques, and taking his medication. He is still in recovery from drug use, but he is able to access weekly group therapy sessions to talk about addictions and recovery, and he makes use of the treatment programs that are available through the housing and medical staff.

When asked what he wishes people outside supportive housing knew about this type of facility, Harris said he would want people to understand that residents are just trying to get help, and that the dignity and safety they get from being housed is really important. For the future, he plans to continue living in supportive housing and getting treatment for his health issues and addiction. 

Darren, 24, says supportive housing has been "liberating"

Darren is 24 years old. He lives with Fetal-Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), but he didn’t get an FASD diagnosis until he was an adult. In the past, he had a hard time maintaining independent housing or living with family. He became connected with supportive housing through his social worker. While he has never been homeless, his worker felt he would benefit from the structure, support and community of supportive housing. His rent in supportive housing is paid through his AISH payments. 

Darren has been living in supportive housing for 3 years. For most of that time, he’s lived with his roommate Eric, who has become a good friend, and together they have a cat. On a regular day, Darren likes to visit the gym and the nearby library, and volunteers with a local community youth organization, where he is working with the staff to develop an anti-bullying program. He has previously worked part-time in retail positions when seasonal work was available; now he is working on building his resume with the help of the supportive housing staff. 

Darren said that moving into supportive housing has been “liberating” for him. He has people to help him manage his emotions and day to day tasks when he needs support. He has found a small community of people who understand his experience with FASD. Darren said that in his life, he’s found that “there are times in life when yourself isn’t enough, and sometimes it’s as simple as having someone there to help.” That help has allowed him to maintain housing and develop independence.

For the future, Darren is hoping to get his anti-bullying program off the ground. He would like to enrol in school to finish his GED through Norquest and eventually hopes to become a social worker, so he can give back the support he has received. While he doesn’t see himself moving out of supportive housing soon, he is hopeful that eventually he will feel secure and prepared enough to manage living on his own when he is ready. 

Leslie, a 63-year-old cancer survivor: "a little bit of hope can break a cycle"

Leslie left home in northern Saskatchewan when he was 13 years old — more than 50 years ago now. He had 50 cents in his pocket when he left, but he also took with him a knowledge of Cree and a strong respect for Indigenous ceremony. He struggled with addiction over the next several decades, travelling across Canada and falling in and out of sobriety.

Around four years ago, he was diagnosed with cancer and received treatment in Red Deer. He lost the ability to walk, and was not expected to live, but he worked every day to walk again and reconnect with Indigenous ceremony. In the midst of his cancer recovery, he was invited by an Indigenous elder to come live in a supportive housing facility in Edmonton that is centred around Indigenous culture and traditions. 

For Leslie, the biggest impact of supportive housing has been that it has given him hope. He told us that “a little bit of hope can break a cycle,” and that the feeling of safety and stability he’s found in housing has been critical to his health recovery. The staff and residents participate in ceremony together, and that process has helped Leslie to gain a stronger sense of hope and self-worth, to ground himself in the community, and to take on a leadership role within the housing facility. Today, he has regained his mobility and is cancer-free. 

As he ages, and after experiencing significant health challenges, one of the things that Leslie thinks about in his supportive housing is death with dignity. In supportive housing, he’s seen other residents pass away, from old age or from illness, but they’ve been surrounded by staff and friends who help them pass comfortably and with dignity, and in some cases have helped them reconnect with family before passing. Leslie said that this kind of dignity and respect isn’t available for people who pass away while living on the streets. 

Today, Leslie is an active part of his community. He goes to garage sales and community events, and sells his painting, rattles and drums at craft sales in the area. He wants to continue staying in supportive housing and building the connections he has made with staff, other residents, and with his family.

Steven, a 4-year resident in a "stable, predictable environment"

Years ago, Steven was working in Halifax for the federal government. He had a family and a job, but he was also living with undiagnosed and untreated schizophrenia and depression. When he started to struggle, he lost his job, and things progressively fell apart. For years afterward, Steven was homeless and worked as a general labourer on construction sites across Canada, including in Edmonton.

Steven said it was particularly difficult to be homeless in Edmonton. He got into trouble with police for loitering in transit shelters to stay warm, and once got gangrene from untreated frostbite. Throughout all of this, Steven’s schizophrenia went undiagnosed, making it difficult for him to access the services he would need to get on his feet.

Eventually, the police who picked Steven up for loitering asked for a psychiatric evaluation, at which point he received a diagnosis and was placed in a medical facility, where he received treatment for a year and a half.

Steven was then referred to a supportive housing facility focused on individuals living with schizophrenia. Steven described supportive housing as “a stable, predictable environment,” which has been important for his mental well-being over the past 4 years. The community provides him with a good balance between socialization and privacy — he can go to his apartment when he feels overwhelmed or spend time with other residents in the common areas when he wants the company.

Steven likes the concerts and events that the staff sometimes host in the building for residents and the surrounding community, but other than that he doesn’t like to go out very much. He told us he doesn’t like to draw attention to himself. Sometimes he likes to go for walks or even occasionally make interesting purchases at Value Village.

For the future, Steven is hoping to stay in supportive housing. The help he receives in supportive housing, like medication management, assistance in managing his finances, and social support is important to him, and to maintaining a good quality of life.

When asked what he would like people outside of supportive housing to know about his experience, Steven said that while he knows his life story and day-to-day life might not be the same as a typical person, he feels safe and comfortable after many years of struggle, and is happy where he is.

For More Information

Email supportivehousing@edmonton.ca

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