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.
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
- Alliance to End Homelessness Ottawa: Contains the annual Report Cards on Homelessness for Ottawa since 2004
- Ottawa University’s Centre for Research on Educational and Community Services: Includes several studies on Homelessness-related topics in Ottawa, including "Describing the Homeless Population of Ottawa-Carleton", "Assisting Recipients of Social Benefits with a History of Homelessness with Financial Matters: A Needs Assessment in the Region of Ottawa-Carleton (Part 1) (Part 2)", and "Needs Assessment for a Rent Bank Project in the Region of Ottawa-Carleton"
- Community Information Centre of Ottawa: Includes directory of community services
- HomelessHub.ca: The Homeless Hub encourages discussions about the future of homelessness research, policy and services in Canada. ·
- Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness: Leads a national movement of individuals, organizations, and communities working together to end homelessness in Canada
- Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Working Group on Homelessness: Members report on-going and recently completed research related to homelessness
- Canadian Mental Health Association: The mission of the CMHA is to advocate with and provide programs and services for people with mental disorders, and to enhance, maintain and promote the mental health of all individuals and communities in Ontario
- Canadian Social Research Network - Homelessness and Housing
- Employment and Social Development Canada: This site provides information on the federal government’s strategy to help provinces and territories to reduce homelessness and on the national database initiative: The Homelessness Individual and Families Information System (HIFIS)
- Raising the Roof: A national charity dedicated to finding long-term solutions to the growing problem of homelessness in Canada
- Homelessness, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Information about homelessness in America, as well as HHS homeless assistance programs, publications, research results, and many other resources related to homelessness
- Homelessness in England - Rough Sleeping: Looks at British efforts to reduce to as near zero as possible the numbers sleeping rough
- National Coalition for the Homeless (U.S.): A national advocacy network of homeless persons, activists, service providers, and others committed to ending homelessness through public education, policy advocacy, grassroots organizing, and technical assistance
For more information about housing-related services for people experiencing homelessness in Ottawa, call Housing Services at 3-1-1 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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