Alberta's homelessness response

A summary of actions to address homelessness in Alberta.


Homelessness is a complex problem that can affect anyone.

Responses to homelessness must be flexible and adaptable as each person's situation is different.

Find a shelter

The Government of Alberta provides funding to support agencies to operate 2 types of homeless shelters, which are accessible to anyone experiencing homelessness.

Emergency shelters are always open, ready to help anyone every day. They provide 24/7 emergency accommodation and a safe place to stay when you do not have a permanent address.

Transitional shelters provide more private, long-term accommodation with supports to help people move to permanent housing and live on their own. These shelters are referral based and often require some financial contribution from tenants.

What we are doing

We are working with community partners to transform the way we respond to homelessness by connecting people with a wider range of services to meet their unique needs.

Responses to homelessness do not focus exclusively on emergency services. To support long-term solutions for people experiencing homelessness, services and supports also help people move off the street, out of shelters and into safe, stable homes, so people’s experience with homelessness is as brief as possible.

Emergency and transitional accommodations

Emergency shelters are always open 24/7, providing a welcoming, safe space for anyone in need on a daily basis. In addition to providing critical, short-term accommodation and basic needs support for people experiencing homelessness, shelters are a gateway to connect people to a range of important services and programs. Emergency shelters throughout the province provide services to support individuals to connect with longer-term housing options that offer varying levels of supports and services to meet the individual’s needs, including activities that support long term recovery.

Shelters are operated by trusted partners who are aware of the different needs of each community. Provincial funding is provided to communities across the province to support the operation of:

  • year-round emergency shelters providing 24/7 services
  • seasonal temporary emergency shelters to ensure services are available 24/7 during winter months when demand is highest
  • transitional shelters that provide a longer-term place for people to live with supports until they can move into more appropriate housing

Alberta’s government provides funding to support the operation of over 4,400 shelter spaces across the province and works with municipal governments to meet changing demand for shelter spaces throughout the year.

Alberta’s government is collaborating with the City of Edmonton and community agencies to have more than 1,700 shelter spaces available for the winter of 2023-24. All of these spaces will operate 24/7.

Shelter accommodation expectations

The Government of Alberta includes Shelter Accommodation Expectations (SAE) as part of all grant funding agreements with shelter operators. The Shelter Accommodation Expectations include guidelines relating to health and safety and general shelter operations such as access to shelter, client information, information and referral services and infection and disease control. In 2023-24, updates were made to align with a housing focused and recovery oriented approach to shelter service delivery.

The guidelines state that shelter accommodations must be offered to all people regardless of political or religious beliefs, ethno-cultural background, health, (dis)ability, gender identity, or sexual orientation.

The SAEs are reviewed and renewed annually alongside annual grant funding agreements to ensure shelter operators have policies that satisfy these expectations and our department maintains regular contact with shelters throughout the year. Temporary shelter sites are not typically required to follow the Shelter Accommodation Expectations. These grants are short-term and typically much smaller and located often in communities where resources are limited.

Access to appropriate housing

Homelessness is often accompanied by other challenges, such as mental illness, addiction, a lack of resources or difficulties with life skills. Once a person has fallen into homelessness, these challenges can make it difficult to regain and maintain housing.

Through housing and supports programming, people experiencing homelessness are placed into housing and then receive wrap-around supports such as addictions treatment, mental health services, employment skills training and rent support to address the unique and complex needs that contributed to their homelessness.

Evidence shows that people are better able to break the cycle of homelessness when provided with housing and appropriate supports.

Annual provincial funding to community-based organizations in Alberta's 7 major cities helps deliver housing and supports programming and support local homelessness priorities.

Action plan

The Action Plan on Homelessness, announced in October 2022, builds on considerable work the province has already undertaken to address and reduce homelessness and included $63 million in additional funding over 2 years.

This funding:

  • supports 24/7 shelter operations in order to better connect people experiencing homelessness with the supports they need
    • New shelter spaces created in Edmonton include Indigenous-led, women-only and spaces with health supports on site. 
  • ensures there are sufficient shelter spaces available to meet the increased demands during the winter, with a focus on communities that have the most urgent needs
  • facilitates the pilot of a service hub model in shelters in Calgary, Edmonton and Grande Prairie, which increases clients’ access to appropriate housing solutions, recovery-oriented services and other social supports
  • includes an additional $12 million for a total of $41 million in Edmonton annually for programs aimed at moving people out of homelessness and into safe and stable housing linked with supportive services

Work is also ongoing to further develop data-driven and outcome-oriented funding models.

Next steps

While great strides have been made towards reaching the goals set out in Alberta's Action Plan on Homelessness, there's more work to do.

As we move forward, we will keep exploring what's working well and the challenges that still need to be addressed.

Helping thousands of Albertans end the cycle of chronic homelessness will continue to be an important part of Alberta's response. Emergency shelters will continue to help people when they have nowhere else to go.

Programs and services across the province will continue to address the root causes and prevent homelessness.