Skip to main content

Housing

Residential Services Homes (Domiciliary Hostels)

Addressing homelessness

People experiencing homelessness in Ottawa

Most people in Ottawa who are experiencing homelessness are men, women, youth and children who have lost their homes because they have either suffered abuse, lost their jobs, faced unmanageable living expenses or have mental health and/or addiction issues. Others are newcomers to the city who cannot find affordable housing. In 2015, there were 6,825 individuals who accessed an emergency shelter.

One of the key components of the City's 10 Year Housing and Homelessness Plan is the implementation of the Housing First service model. Housing First prioritizes people experiencing homelessness for housing and supports based on how deep their needs are for support services and the length of time they have been homeless. Housing First uses a common assessment tool amongst referring agencies. People with the highest needs are able to access housing and supports more quickly. Providing a person who is homeless with housing and the necessary supports to stay housed leads to a better quality of life and is far less costly than staying at an emergency shelter.

Learn more about the City's Housing First Program.

The City's 10 Year Housing and Homelessness Plan aims to achieve the following outcomes by 2024:

  • No one is unsheltered
  • Chronic homelessness is eliminated
  • Emergency shelter stays are less than 30 days
  • Emergency shelters provide an adequate level of service

Housing services for people experiencing homelessness

The City of Ottawa's Housing Services branch ("Housing Services") funds community agencies that, in turn, help people who experience homelessness and those at risk of becoming homeless. This collaborative effort has developed into a system of services that ranges from preventing homelessness to helping people find permanent housing.

  • Emergency shelters – The City subsidizes approximately 950 permanent shelter spaces in two City-operated family shelters, eight community shelter providers and overflow facilities as needed. Shelter operators provide a variety of services including meals, a place to sleep, and case management, including practical assistance. They also ensure that all clients are assessed and referred to the social and health services they need. Each shelter has a housing support worker to help clients find long-term housing and settle into the community. No one who needs emergency shelter is turned away. If all the shelters are full, the City arranges for another option to make sure that no one is left without shelter.
  • Support services – There are two types of support services:
    • Supported Housing: Using a case management approach, support workers assist clients with activities provided in their own homes through scheduled visits, such as life skills to support independent living. Individuals live in scattered units across the city including units that are block-leased by the service provider.
    • Housing-Based Case Management: Housing-Based Case Managers assist people who are unsheltered and/or in emergency shelters to find appropriate housing, learn relevant life skills, and promote an improved quality of life by facilitating timely access to community supports, thereby enhancing housing stability and supporting long-term housing retention. Hours of service provision are flexible to meet the needs of the clients including some evening and weekend availability and/or access to additional crisis supports, such as a 24/7 crisis line. Housing Services funds 10 agencies to provide this service to adults and youth with a total of 34 Housing-Based Case Managers.
  • Outreach – The City also funds a number of homelessness outreach teams whose functions include:
    • Helping people who are on the street to access emergency shelters and to obtain housing
    • Supporting people experiencing homelessness by preventing or reducing potential harm and connecting them to health and social services

Finding an emergency shelter

Emergency shelters offer meals, a place to sleep, and case management, including practical assistance. They also make sure that all clients are assessed and referred to the social and health services they need. Each shelter has a housing support worker to help clients find housing in the community. There are eight shelter agencies in Ottawa that provide these services to different population groups such as men, women, families, and youth.

If you or someone you know needs shelter, please call the City and make a request for placement. A placement officer will refer you to the best available shelter.

  • Call 3-1-1
  • Toll-Free: 1-866-261-9799
  • TTY: 613-580-2401

Homelessness resources

Ottawa

Canada

Other

For more information about housing-related services for people experiencing homelessness in Ottawa, call Housing Services at 3-1-1 or email housing-logement@ottawa.ca.

Getting involved

You can make a difference to address homelessness in Ottawa. Get involved by:

  • Donating to the Community Foundation Homelessness Fund
  • Volunteering at the Volunteer Centre of Ottawa
  • Donating to the United Way
  • Raising the Roof – a national charity dedicated to finding long-term solutions to the growing problem of homelessness in Canada
  • Share the Warmth – a registered, not-for-profit charity that purchases heat and energy on behalf of families, seniors, chronically ill and persons with disabilities living at or near the poverty level

Our 10 Year Housing & Homelessness Plan

Our 10 Year Housing and Homelessness Plan (“the Plan”) builds on our current responsive approaches to housing and homelessness with an enhanced focus on prevention and support through system integration. It builds on the approaches, partnerships and successes of the $16M Housing and Homelessness Investment Plan when the sector came together and developed a common agenda to implement agreed upon projects.

Our Plan is the culmination of years of extensive consultation and collaboration with a broad range of stakeholders, including a concentrated effort over the past 13 months. Our Plan describes our key priorities, our desired outcomes and our proposed high-level actions. We are committed to creating an integrated housing system that aligns assets, funding, services, supports, policies and programs to respond to our clients’ needs in a holistic manner.

Our Plan is the culmination of years of extensive consultation and collaboration with a broad range of stakeholders. Our Plan describes our key priorities, our desired outcomes and our proposed high-level actions.

We are committed to creating an integrated housing system that aligns assets, funding, services, supports, policies and programs to respond to our clients’ needs in a holistic manner. The circular depiction of our future system, with the client in the centre, illustrates that while needs may be varied, complex and changing over time, a well-designed, coordinated system will respond more effectively to unique housing and support needs of our vulnerable residents. This is in sharp contrast to past linear depictions of programs and services that suggests clients’ paths are uniform and unidirectional.

We recognize that having an agreed upon framework assists in identifying a collective goal, leveraging and attracting funding, catalyzing and enabling learning and course correction to ensure success for clients. As a result, we are committed to achieving the Five Conditions of Collective Impact in our Housing and Support System:

  • Common Agenda: Developing a common understanding of the needs and shared vision for action and change
  • Shared Measurement: Gathering data and measuring outcomes to ensure we are each accountable
  • Mutually Reinforcing Activities: While partners’ activities may be different, they are coordinated through a mutually reinforcing plan of action
  • Continuous Communication: Consistent and open communication is needed to build trust, to motivate and to assure mutual objectives
  • Backbone Support: An entity with skilled staff that serves as the backbone of the initiative and that coordinates the participating organizations and agencies

Priorities of our ten year plan

Our Plan is a commitment to meet the most pressing housing needs of our residents by focusing on three key priorities:

  • Ensuring everyone has a home
  • Ensuring people get the support they need
  • Working together

Priority 1: Ensuring everyone has a home

Our city continues to see an increase in the number of people living in poverty who face high rental costs due to the lack of affordable housing options. Without a place to call home, day-to-day activities, such as finding and keeping a job, become a challenge. This Plan commits to increasing affordable housing options to address the current low supply and the high demand that exists in our city.

Table 1: Everyone has a home
What we want Our targets What we will do
  1. A range of housing options meets demand through:
    1. construction
    2. purchase
    3. redevelopment
    4. housing subsidies
  2. Affordable housing is in a good state of repair and well - managed.
  • 130 new units approved in 2013 - 2015 through the Investing in Affordable Housing (IAH) Program
  • 2015-2019 IAH to be determined.
  • Repairs/modifications through the Ontario Renovates Program to 200 homes for low income residents by Q4 2015.
  • Complete Building Condition Assessments on all social housing by Q1, 2014.
  • Develop a plan for repairs by Q4, 2014.
  • Together, we[1] will maintain, build, acquire or redevelop safe, accessible and affordable homes to meet people’s needs and to offer them choice in mixed income communities. Households will be close to transportation, work and stores, which will help residents lead stable, independent lives.
  • The City will use the 2012-2014 IAH and City capital funding to act on the approved priorities, providing larger units for families and supportive housing for singles, both with barrier free units. It will establish priorities for the new IAH and similar funds based on local needs and on consultations with stakeholders.
  • We will use innovative ways to leverage assets, including buildings, land, reserves, capital grants and incentives, to increase, repair and redevelop the housing stock. Possible approaches include re-financing and asset rationalization which may result in the selling of assets and redevelopment to provide more housing options for the community.
  • The City will consider more housing subsidies and grant programs, such as housing allowances, rent supplements and affordable home ownership, as funding becomes available.
  • We will seek adequate and sustained funding from all levels of government for publicly funded assets and infrastructure. We will also seek funds for additional housing subsidies.
  • We will work with lenders, developers, other private sector partners and government to shape policies and offer incentives to increase the supply of affordable housing in our city.
  • We will use green sustainable building and repair solutions when they reduce our environmental impact and/or save money, while meeting resident needs.
  • The City and social housing providers will use lifecycle data to:
    • plan for repairs
    • prioritize them on a system-wide basis
      • inform planning and decision-making about redevelopment and selling assets
  • We will ensure that social housing is managed in a fair, effective and equitable way by educating housing providers about the social housing standards and by promoting best practices.

Priority 2: People get the support they need

Housing alone is sometimes not enough. Ensuring people get the support they need is key to securing and retaining housing for many of our residents. Following a housing first approach, we recognize that a broad spectrum of housing and support options are needed to help demographic populations such as women and children fleeing abuse, Aboriginals and Inuit people, seniors, youth, people leaving health and correctional facilities to break the cycle of chronic and episodic homelessness. Supports are also an integral part of the housing system which helps people with physical and mental health needs and/or cognitive and physical disabilities who require specialized care.

Table 2: People get the support they need

What we want

Our targets

What we will do

  1. People receive the right types of services and support to keep their homes and to prevent homelessness.
  2. People who become homeless are safe and receive adequate temporary shelter and supports to find housing.
  3. There is no chronic homelessness.
  • Achieve 40% savings in the funding to emergency shelters by 2024.
  • Savings are reinvested into prevention.
  • 100 long stay clients are transitioned to housing with supports by Q4, 2015.
  • Emergency shelter stays are 30 days or less by 2024.
  • Together, we will provide supports in transitional or permanent housing, on-site, in the community or by a mobile team in order to help people lead healthy, stable lives. Support may be short to long-term and low to high intensity. It may include, but not be limited to, crisis response, financial support, addiction and mental health services, case management, counseling, employment support, life skills coaching and general health supports.
  • The City will offer financial support to help low income households to pay for unpaid rent or utilities.
  • We will reinvest housing savings into the housing system consistent with this plan’s priorities.
  • We will build upon existing services to create a flexible and accessible support system based on best practices, giving people the support they need to find and retain housing.
  • We will make operating funds available for supportive housing built or acquired under the Investing in Affordable Housing or other programs.
  • The City will work with community agencies to develop the information, tools and training they need to provide support to residents.
  • We will offer information and resources to landlords to help them meet residents’ support needs, including people living with complex needs.
  • We will provide the types of services people need, including street and community outreach.
  • We will improve shelters by addressing issues such as building conditions and overflow accommodations.
  • We will use a housing first approach, working with people to find homes and the right supports.
  • The City will offer financial support to help people who are homeless move into homes, such as first and last month’s rent, a moving allowance and starter kits.
  • We will end chronic homelessness by responding to the factors that increase the risk of long-term homelessness. These factors are often persistent, complex and unique to the individual. We will stabilize their situations and provide supportive environments, beginning with the people who have the greatest needs.
  • We will plan proactively to support people who are re-entering or transitioning into the community. This means establishing a city-wide coordinated response approach; planning ahead for each individual’s specific needs.

Priority 3: Working together

The City works with over 130 organizations to provide housing and support services to residents. The system needs to be integrated and easy to access. A system-level shift from responding to homelessness to preventing it is the only way to end chronic homelessness. Improved housing conditions are best achieved through collaborative partnerships, therefore, a commitment by stakeholders to work together on a detailed work plan is imperative to achieving the priorities in this plan. A common vision with agreed-upon actions and targets that are monitored for course correction, will help to ensure outcomes are met. While people’s lives can be complex, navigating the system should not. We will work with all levels of government and community stakeholders to address our local challenges, to advocate for adequate and sustained funding, and to support the creation of a National Housing Strategy.

Table 3: We work together

What we want

Our targets

What we will do

  1. Ottawa has an integrated housing system[2], responsive to the housing and support needs of residents.
  2. Improved service planning and coordination and sustained funding from all levels of government meet people’s needs.
  • Communication Plan developed by Q2, 2014.
  • Interdepartmental committee is operational by Q2, 2014.
  • Advocacy Plan is developed by Q3, 2014.
  • The City will lead its partners to implement an integrated housing system which develops thriving communities where people want to live. The City and its housing partners will be accountable for funding and services that are coordinated, effective and responsive to local needs.
  • We will make sure that people know what services and supports exist to help them, and how to use them. Access will be simple and clear. We will use technology to ensure transparency, choice and easy access.
  • We will develop outcome-based measures that will be used to evaluate and develop policies, programs and services that respond to residents’ existing and future needs.
  • We will analyze research, trends, local needs and promising practices that can help us improve all areas of the housing system.
  • The City will continue to lead the Housing System Working Group* (HSWG) to develop an implementation work plan that will evolve with the local needs.
  • The HSWG will develop a communications strategy to share information, seek feedback and act on input from residents, including people with lived experience.
  • Led by the Housing Services Branch, the City will create an Interdepartmental City Committee that will support and/or implement related actions in the work plan. This committee will ensure that the Plan’s goals are met and are reflected in current and future plans including the Official Plan, Infrastructure Master Plan, Sustainability and Resilience Plan, Community Design Plans and the Transportation Master Plan. Representation will include but will not be limited to: Planning, Public Health, Real Estate Services, Legal, Social Services.
  • We will support the development of a National Housing Strategy that commits to ensuring that housing is recognized as a human right.
  • We will participate in networks, coalitions and workgroups to further the goals of the plan.
  • We will advocate for increased and sustained funding from all levels of government.
  • We will reinvest savings within the housing system consistent with this plan’s priorities.

[1] We includes the City, the private sector, non-profit sector and the community working together to ensure a full range of housing, supports and related services are available to people who need them.

[2] Housing System is the full range of housing, supports and related services available. The system includes all levels of government and the private and not-profit sectors.

Success stories

Cheryl’s story

Cheryl was just like you or anyone else, living a regular life. She had her own business and a full life. She knew who she was and where she was going.

For Cheryl, a diagnosis of cancer changed everything. Treatments took their toll on her, both physically and emotionally. The financial pressures started to mount, something Cheryl was simply not able to deal with on top of her illness and treatments.

As time wore on, Cheryl started to regain her physical health but still had not dealt with the emotional trauma of breast cancer. During this time, Cheryl’s bills continued to pile up and she ended up losing her home. Cheryl did not know where to turn, where to get help. She was alone, afraid and homeless.

Cheryl was told of a relatively new program, run by the City and the YMCA-YWCA, for women who are homeless or at risk for becoming homeless. Cheryl made contact. Thankfully, there was an opening and Cheryl not only found a place to live, but also a place to heal and get back on her feet. The TRY program provides a safe and caring environment where Cheryl could access the help and support she needed. Cheryl was also accepted and supported by the other program participants, as they were all on a similar journey.

Cheryl is now taking her life back. For the first time in a long time, she has hope for her future. With the help of a TRY counsellor, she is setting life goals and is looking forward to living independently again soon. Cheryl wants to say thank you to everyone who has made this program possible. “Its investments like these that positively affect so many lives in our community, including mine”.

Cheryl went from a successful working woman to being homeless in a matter of months. “Look at me”, said Cheryl, “I could be your sister, your mother, your brother, your daughter or your friend.”

A tragedy tore Cheryl’s life apart but the gift of a supportive community-based program is helping her put her life back together.

Gilles' story

Gilles grew up in a family that struggled financially and had issues with addictions. In his neighbourhood, it was either fight or flight. So Gilles fought. Time and time again he found himself in juvenile detention. The last time Gilles went home, he found his mother and siblings gone. No one could tell Gilles where his family had gone. He was 15 years old, alone and homeless; his new home was the streets of Ottawa.

A local police officer told Gilles about the Youth Services Bureau (YSB), a local agency that helps young people get back on their feet. Reaching a “fork in the road”, Gilles had a choice to make. He could choose life on the street or he could ask for help. Recognizing the dangers of living on the streets, Gilles decided to give the Youth Services Bureau a shot. City and YSB staff helped Gilles apply for financial assistance, find temporary housing and locate a high school near his ‘new’ home. Everyone was so nice to Gilles and he was bound and determined not to let himself or the people that helped him down.

In the end, Gilles made everyone extremely proud. He graduated high school, continues to play competitive rugby and volunteers with Habitat for Humanity. Today Gilles attends college and expects to graduate as a Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Technician next year.

Tenant rights

Property standards

Tenants who live in housing in need of repair should first work with their landlord or property management company. Comments to the landlord or property manager should be put in writing and the tenant should keep a copy.

After a reasonable amount of time, if the repairs have not been carried out, tenants should contact Property Standards at the City of Ottawa. The City inspects buildings and properties when there is a complaint concerning the interior or exterior condition and the safety of residents.

Property standards inspections ensure and enforce compliance with City by-laws regulating property maintenance and occupancy standards. Property Standards may be contacted by calling 3-1-1 (TTY: 613-580-2401).

Tenant supports

If you live in Ottawa and are searching for rental housing, have a conflict with your landlord or are at risk of eviction, there are several organizations that can provide support and guidance.

  • Housing Help
    • A one-stop, drop-in service for all Ottawa residents who have housing problems or questions
    • 309 Cooper Street, Suite 502
      Ottawa, ON, K2P 0G5
      Tel: 613-563-4532
      Fax: 613-563-8019
  • Action-Logement
    • A charitable organization devoted to assisting low-income individuals and families to find and maintain safe, affordable and adequate rental housing
    • 261 Montreal Road
      Ottawa, ON, K1L 8C7
      Tel: 613-562-8219
      Fax: 613-241-1526
  • Community Legal Services
    • Provides free legal help to people of low income
    • 1 Nicholas Street, Suite 422
      Ottawa, ON, K1N 7B7
      Tel: 613-241-7008
      Fax: 613-241-8680

Landlord and Tenant Board

The Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 (RTA) sets the rules for most residential rental housing in Ontario. The Landlord and Tenant Board provides information about the RTA and resolves disputes between residential landlords and tenants. The former Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal is now known as the Landlord and Tenant Board.

For more information about the rights and responsibilities of tenants and landlords, please visit the Landlord and Tenant Board website.

Discrimination and human rights

  • Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation
    • ​CERA is a not-for-profit charitable organization dedicated to preventing evictions and ending housing discrimination across Ontario
    • Please note that CERA is not a legal clinic and are not able to meet with clients in person. Please contact CERA by phone or email to discuss your situation.
    • 215 Spadina Avenue, Unit 164
      Toronto, ON, M5T 2C7
      Tel: 416-944-0087
      Toll-Free: 1-800-263-1139, ext. 1
      Email: cera@equalityrights.org