Safe House Program

The University of Alberta Safe House Program offers temporary emergency accommodation for current students and their children.

Frequently Asked Questions for Referring Students to the Safe House Program

Who is eligible for the Safe House program?

Registered students at the University of Alberta who are:

  • experiencing an immediate personal safety risk (i.e. emotional, physical, and/or sexual harm),
  • facing intolerable living conditions, or
  • financially destitute.
Who is NOT eligible for the Safe House program?

Students will not be eligible for the Safe House if they:

  • are not at the level of risk necessitating emergency shelter.
  • have access to other safe and reasonable accommodations/living arrangements with friends, family, classmates, etc.
  • have access to financial resources that would allow for alternate housing.
  • are actively suicidal.
  • are not suitable to congregate living situations
How long can students stay in the Safe House Program?
Safe House stays can range from one day up to two weeks.
What supports are available for students who need emergency accommodation?
A Safe House Advisor will provide follow-up supports and referrals to assist the student in resolving, in a timely manner, the situation that caused them to require Safe House accommodation.
How can students be referred to the Safe House program?

Daytime referrals can be made to a staff member in the Dean of Students Office at 5-02 SUB or 780-492-4145 or email at DoS staff will assess eligibility and connect the student in need to an intake advisor.

For after-hours referrals, or if Dean of Students staff are not available:

  • In Edmonton (Campus Saint-Jean and North Campus) call the University of Alberta Protective Services at 780-492-5050.
  • In Camrose (Augustana) call the Student Experience Coordinators at 780-781-0305 (24-hour number).
What does the referrer need to provide when contacting support
  • Explain where you are calling from and that you have a student that requires Safe House intake.
  • The staff will instruct you as to where to send the client for intake.
  • If there is no answer, leave a message and wait for them to return your call.
Can pets be accommodated in the Safe House program?
Yes, student pets can be accommodated in the Safe House program.

Understanding Student or Hidden Homelessness

What is student or hidden homelessness?
  • + 70,000 post-secondary students experience homelessness daily in Canada (this number does not reflect unreported incidents, hence +)
  • Student homelessness is often referred to as hidden homelessness because people without a home can find limited accommodations through couch-surfing, or sleeping in student lounges, libraries and cars. 
  • Housing insecurity is another common student experience, which is where conditions for ongoing housing are tentative.
  • Impacts of hidden homeless on Ualberta students
    • Impacts of homelessness can result in devastating declines to an individual’s overall well-being and academic success. For example, many students may experience a decrease in their quality of sleep, safety and feeling safe, food security, and academic engagement.
    • Stigma perpetuates the hidden costs of student homeless. Often the feelings of shame and failure are felt by students experiencing insecure housing (Kovacs et al. p. 51)
    • Homelessness often carries on after graduation as students are faced with paying back students loans and seeking employment (Kovacs et al. p. 51) .
    • SU relevant statements from the UASU 2018 Undergraduate Student Survey:
      • “Students who experience potential homelessness indicators are far more likely to skip meals frequently due to the cost of food. This is true even for relatively commonplace indicators like ‘couch-surfing,’ staying with friends without paying formal rent, or being evicted or forced to leave one’s residence.” (pg 2)
      • “Since enrolling at U of A, roughly 25 students have stayed in a car, abandoned building, or other places not meant for residence. Roughly 70 have slept on campus, other than at the Commuter Study Hostel, because they had nowhere else to go. LGBTQ2S+ students and other populations of interest are at special risk for these situations.” (pg 3)
      • “Gender and orientation proved to be vital factors in risk of homelessness. Students who identify as LGBTQ2S+ are three times more likely to be evicted or forced to leave their residence, and significantly more likely to couch-surf, identify as homeless, and sleep on campus because they have nowhere else to go. The 40+ students who listed their gender as ‘non-binary or other,’ meanwhile, experienced radically higher rates of all homelessness indicators.” (pg 66)
      • “Men were much more likely than women to be evicted or forced to leave; to sleep on campus; to stay in a place not meant for housing, and to identify as homeless. It seems clear that women who have precarious housing situations put a higher premium on sleeping in an actual residence (rather than on campus or in an unsafe location).” (pg 67)
      • FNMI/Indigenous students (like other populations of interest) appear to face a significant risk of being evicted or forced from their residence.” (pg 68).
What supports exist for student homelessness?

If you are already receiving support from a campus service provider, ask them about how to navigate housing supports campus. Otherwise, contact the Office of the Dean of Students (DoS) during work hours or University Protective Services after hours to navigate what will work for you. The DoS provides a number of specialized support services to help students achieve success and reach their academic potential. The DoS facilitates a positive relationship between students, faculty, and administration and promotes a respectful campus environment for all. If you don’t know where to turn, contact

Other Resources
Additional On-Campus Resources

Other supports on campus that may be helpful:

Additional Off-Campus Resources
  • 211 - For information on supports in Edmonton.
  • Edmonton Community Legal Centre - The Edmonton Community Legal Centre provides free legal information and advice to low to moderate-income people in the Edmonton area. 
  • Homeward Trust - Edmonton supports for people currently experiencing homelessness and would like further information on housing programs in the city.
  • Landlord-Tenant Advisory Board - Provides advice and information to residential tenants and landlords to address tenancy issues and ensure both tenants and landlords are aware of their rights and obligations.
  • Youth Emergency Shelter - Based in Edmonton, YESS provides immediate and low-barrier shelter, temporary housing, and individualized wraparound support for youth ages 15-24.




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