DiverseCity Housing Initiative

Program snapshot

Age group: Adult (25-64)

Gender: Mixed (male and female)

Population served: Adult offenders; Homeless and/or runaway

Topic: Alcohol and/or drug use; Antisocial/deviant behaviours; Crime issues involving a mental health disorder or other health disorder

Setting: Urban area; Community-based setting

Location: Alberta

Number of completed Canadian outcome evaluation studies: 0

Continuum of intervention: Tertiary crime prevention

Brief Description

DiverseCity Housing Initiative is helping people with concurrent disorders, health issues, criminal justice involvement, and homelessness turn their lives around by providing them with a home and support. It is based on the philosophy that recovery from mental illness and addiction is possible, that people are competent and can make informed decisions about their housing and treatment, and that housing is a fundamental human right. In alignment with the Housing First philosophy, participation in the program is not contingent on individuals complying with psychiatric treatment or abstaining from substance use. 


The main goals of the DiverseCity Housing Initiative are to assist their clients in:

  • Attaining and maintaining stable housing;
  • Acquiring mental health/addiction treatment;
  • Decreasing criminal activity/victimization; and
  • Accessing appropriate health services and community integration.


The program is intended for individuals aged 25 years and over who have a serious mental illness and/or substance use disorder, are experiencing a housing crisis and have current criminal justice involvement.

Core Components

The DiverseCity Housing Initiative operates as follows:

  • Program participants are required to pay 30 per cent of their income towards their rental costs;
  • Program participants must have the ability to live (or learn to live) independently and be able to complete self-care; and
  • Program participants select rental market units located within Edmonton, in the neighbourhood they want to live.

Implementation Information

Some of the critical elements for the implementation of this program or initiative include the following:

  • Organizational requirements: Alberta Health Services employs a community-based, multi-disciplinary assertive community treatment team to provide comprehensive support to those individuals in the program.
  • Partnerships: The DiverseCity Housing Initiative is based on the Housing First model and employs a community-based, multi-disciplinary Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) team to provide mental health and/or addiction treatment and housing support to individuals living in independent housing units.
  • Training and technical assistance: Limited information on this topic.
  • Risk assessment tools: Limited information on this topic.
  • Materials & resources: Limited information on this topic.

International Endorsements

The most recognized classification systems of evidence-based crime prevention programs have classified this program or initiative as follows:

  • Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development: Not applicable.
  • Crime Solutions/OJJDP Model Program Guide: Not applicable.
  • SAMHSA's National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices: Not applicable.
  • Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy: Not applicable.

Gathering Canadian Knowledge

Canadian Implementation Sites

The project was implemented in Edmonton, Alberta from May 2009 – March 2013. At this site, 64 men and women were housed. Individuals housed were aged 25 years and over, had a serious mental illness and/or substance use disorder, were experienced a housing crisis and had current criminal justice involvement.

Main Findings from Canadian Outcome Evaluation Studies

No information available.

Cost Information

A social return on investment (SROI) has been conducted on the DiverseCity Housing Initiative. The findings from this study have shown the following:

  • The SROI ratio indicates that over the three-year pilot, the average social value of investment in the DiverseCity Housing Initiative is $1.84 for every dollar invested.

Funding was provided by the Safe Communities Innovation Fund (SCIF), Government of Alberta.


Alberta Community Crime Prevention Organizations. (2015). Social Return on Investment (SROI) Case Study: DiverseCity Housing Initiative. Recipient of Safe Communities Innovation Fund, Government of Alberta. Available from: https://open.alberta.ca/publications/safe-communities-innovation-fund-pilot-project-executive-summaries

For more information on this program, contact:

Alberta Health Services - Addiction and Mental Health
Edmonton Zone
Nicole Tomiuk
Phone: (780)288-0990
E-mail: nicole.tomiuk@albertahealthservices.ca

Record Entry Date - 2018-02-21
Record Updated On - 2021-04-29
Date modified: