What is supportive housing?

    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 matched to a supportive housing residence based on the support services and programming offered on site. 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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    Who is responsible for operations?

    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. 

How was the site selected?

    How was this site selected?

    City policy C601 provides guidelines for identifying affordable and supportive housing sites. Ideal sites are ready for development, well integrated with surrounding land uses and built form, and close to amenities like transit, grocery stores, recreation centres, libraries and parks. 

    The Westmount site was selected because the parcel is a regular shape and can be developed quickly. It is across from other multi-unit residential buildings and already zoned for our purposes. It is also located near Westmount Shopping Centre, Coronation Park, Woodcroft Library, and transit that connects to major transit hubs. Additionally, Westmount’s non-market housing ratio is below the City’s 16% target at 4.42%.

    Will the site be rezoned?

    The site does not need to be rezoned. The zoning is RA7 (low rise apartment zone). The maximum height is 14.5 metres, which allows for about 4 storeys. Multi-unit residential housing and supportive housing are permitted uses.

    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. 


    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.

    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.