Alberta's 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness
A Best Practice in Systems Transformation

Author: Françoise Morissette, Michael Stansberry
Publication Date: 2015

This case chronicles Alberta's progress in eradicating homelessness. In 2008, it was estimated that 11,000 Albertans lived on the streets of the province's major cities. Projections showed that these numbers would continue to rise, if the status quo was maintained.

From 2008 to 2015, Alberta also had a population growth of 579,654 and continued to experience the highest rental rates ($1157 average two bedroom monthly rent in 2013) and the lowest vacancy rates (1.6% in 2013) in the country meaning that disadvantaged Albertans continued to be at a high risk of falling into homelessness.

By adopting a radically different approach, Alberta made major headway. Since 2008, 11,332 people have been housed of which 91% have managed to maintain tenancy in fiscal year 2014/2015.

These impressive results are due to:
- An integrated provincial strategy
- Widespread stakeholder engagement and commitment to action
- A sound approach (Housing First), framed within a proven evidence-based model
- A solid action plan, rigorously implemented.

While homelessness often seems a daunting, if not chronic problem, Alberta has shown the way to solutions that deliver results. In contrast with other Canadian jurisdictions who favour municipal approaches, Alberta broke new ground in 2009 by defining a bold provincial vision: End homelessness in 10 years, instead of simply 'managing' or 'reducing' it.

To achieve this ambitious goal, Alberta had to dramatically change its thinking and action about homelessness. The province began by exploring the nature and causes of homelessness, and the reasons for its explosive growth. It then examined its current systems and programs for dealing with it, in order to determine their efficiency and effectiveness.

This led to designing and implementing a novel system-wide approach, complete with public policies, governance structures, and service delivery, working in synch to achieve the vision.

Alberta has now become Canada's leader in this area, seeking to provide homes for all' and for good.

This story proves once again, that transformational success in the public sector depends on putting in place the right public policies, governance systems and service delivery strategies, and ensuring they work together to deliver on a powerful and compelling vision.