Creative Options Regina has helped the people they support to find housing for some years now, developing one-on-one relationships with landlords who offer discounts, and they’ve partnered with a group of 10 families who invested in building a condo building for their children that provides supportive living.

“We’re always looking for partnerships, especially ones that are safe and affordable,” says Jessica Fraser, Supportive Living Coordinator at COR. “But that can be tricky — if it’s affordable, it might not be in a safe location. The folks we serve are considered vulnerable.”

COR is a charitable organization that develops personalized support services for people experiencing disability. The organization supports people living in their own homes and helps individuals discover their talents and interests so they can live according to their values and reach their personal goals.

As of publishing their 2023 annual report, they had 30 people living in supported living and 58 people receiving home support. However, Fraser said their numbers and the need for safe and affordable housing have grown since then.

COR first connected with the National Affordable Housing Corporation while working with Inclusion Saskatchewan to help someone living in Regina find housing in Saskatoon. NAHC has been working with Inclusion Sask since 2020 to house people with intellectual disabilities.

So when NAHC had plans to build more townhouse rentals in Regina, connecting with COR again was a natural fit.

Fraser says the partnership with NAHC is unique because the rent is so affordable, and the buildings are brand new in an up-and-coming neighbourhood in the city. 

“People are paying affordable rent that aligns with their SAID benefits, so that in itself is a success,” Fraser said.


Fraser says the NAHC is a good fit for a partnership because it is “person-centred,” looking at the needs of the individual and asking how to make the community fit the person rather than how to make the person fit into the community. 

“They’re really community-based,” Fraser said. “The renters aren’t segregated from the rest of the market rent folks; they get to be part of the community.”

Adina Wilson is the Director of Tenant Inclusion & Support at the NAHC and Real Life Rentals and agrees that creating a sense of community for program participants is critical to its success.

“They’re living in a regular community where they’re accepted, valued and seen as regular neighbours, just like other people in the complex,” Wilson said. “That helps them build self-esteem and helps them feel valued and empowered.”

She also says the program hasn’t only benefited the individuals living there, it has also benefited the community. 

“Successful programs like this demonstrate creative inclusivity that encourages understanding, develops better empathy and celebrates the positive contributions all can make; we’ve broken some of the stigmas down with our inclusive housing model,” Wilson said. 

“It’s been nice to see community members in the different complexes treating everyone with so much kindness and acceptance.”

Neighbours have asked program participants to pet sit, or water plants and check a neighbour’s unit when they’re away. 

“Those are huge things,” Wilson said. “When you have a community that you belong to and feel valued in, it’s really important. … It’s neat to watch that develop naturally and organically because we all need community and human connection.”

It’s also handy for multiple people from the COR community to be living in the same development  — several people COR supported who previously had never met took the opportunity to get to know each other when they moved in.

Building trust

Building solid relationships is vital when supporting vulnerable individuals with complex needs; many have stories of facing barriers or discrimination when it comes to finding housing. 

“If they can learn to trust the people around them, it will create better opportunities and chances for success,” Wilson said. “When obstacles and challenges arise, they’ll be more forthcoming about letting us know.”

Wilson has regular communication with the tenants and Fraser at COR. Since Wilson works out of Saskatoon, she especially appreciates having COR staff on the ground with the tenants in Regina.

“We wouldn’t be able to do this in Regina without COR right there,” she said. “When you have a solid partner willing to work cooperatively, it’s very valuable.”

COR and NAHC work together if any issues arise, and Fraser with COR says she feels confident that if there’s a problem, they can figure out a solution together.

“We want this to work, and we want everyone to be successful in their housing,” Fraser said. “We want to say, this person is experiencing a challenge — how can we assist them?”

In one case, two roommates asked for assistance cleaning and organizing their home. The NAHC found a professional organizer to work with them for a few months and provide coaching to develop new cleaning habits and practical skills. After the work was complete, the tenants said they experienced a sense of accomplishment and commented that the help made their home environment more comfortable and enjoyable.

“Partnerships are really about people being able to collaborate and share their ideas and being heard,” Fraser said.

There are currently four units with eight COR clients living in them, and more units for COR will be available with the completion of Hawkstone Estates in late summer or early fall 2024. 

“I would love to have more folks living in these homes,” Fraser said. “I would love for all the folks I support to have affordable housing as they expand in Regina.”

This Affordable & Supportive Independent Living- Sector Transformation Model for Individuals with Mental Health Challenges project received funding from the Community Housing Transformation Centre (the Centre); however, the views expressed are the author's personal views, and the Centre accepts no responsibility for them.