Strategy #8 - Alberta Human Services - Government of Alberta

Strategy #8

Review and revise funding and administrative arrangements with homeless-serving agencies.

Not-for-profit social service agencies play a key role in the homeless-serving system. Many not-for-profit agencies are currently under strain, facing increased demand for their services as they struggle with higher operating costs. Costs such as rent, utilities and insurance continue to increase, impacting agency budgets. Salaries, benefits and working conditions are largely uncompetitive in the not-for-profit sector, making it difficult for agencies to recruit staff.

Supporting agencies in their work is an important role for the Alberta government. However, support needs to be provided in ways that encourage agencies to shift their programming to a housing first philosophy.

Homeless-serving agencies too often focus their operations on managing homelessness rather than working to end homelessness. This is largely due to the urgent nature of the problem – faced with high demand and limited resources, agencies spend most of their time in “triage” situations.

However, it is also due in part to the nature of funding arrangements. Contracts often provide funding to agencies based on inputs – such as the number of shelter beds, or the number of persons received into the homelessness system – rather than on outcomes and objectives.

As Alberta adopts a housing first philosophy, all partners in the homeless-serving system will have to adjust their work focus accordingly. Agencies will need to focus on rapidly moving clients into permanent housing, and making supports available to clients that will help them achieve housing stability. Effective case management will need to be provided and employed. Greater inter-agency collaboration will need to be fostered.

Funding from the Alberta government will need to support those agencies that help homeless Albertans transition to and remain in stable housing. In keeping with the principle that action on homelessness must be led at the community level, the Alberta government will ideally provide funding to community-based organizations. Community-based organizations will then have responsibility for deploying resources in ways that coordinate the homeless systems in their communities and achieve outcomes.

In implementing the Plan for Alberta, new funding models will be examined. Consistent with the outcome-driven nature of the Plan, funding models will be based on measuring outcomes rather than inputs. They will also be designed to encourage and reward work approaches that are consistent with a housing first philosophy.

As Alberta transitions to a housing first philosophy, not-for-profit homeless-serving agencies will continue to be supported. Ways will be identified to help agencies address the challenges they face. This may include:

  • providing resources to help agencies address specific pressures;
  • providing resources to increase skill levels and training of agency staff; or
  • alleviating agencies of onerous administrative and financial burdens to help their resources go further.
PID: 14617