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Keeping your home / Finding affordable housing

If you need help or information to maintain your current housing or find new housing, contact the agency in your area:

Action Housing
150 Montreal Rd, Suite 305

Also provides housing search and Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal assistance.
Area served:  everything East of the Rideau Canal

Housing Help
309 Cooper Street, Suite 502

Also provides housing search and Ontario Rental Housing Tribunal assistance.
Area served:  everything West of the Rideau Canal

Rent supplement

What it is:

  • The Rent Supplement program secures units in private rental housing communities to provide affordable accommodation to eligible low and moderate-income households.
  • The Rent Supplement office contracts with private landlords to provide units.
  • The rent supplement is attached to the unit and therefore cannot be transferred if the tenant wishes to move to another location/unit.
  • Similar to social housing rental rates for those in receipt of RGI assistance within a rent supplement unit typically are set according to the income of the renter, with households paying no more than 30 per cent of their income towards rent.
  • The supplement provided to the landlord is the difference between negotiated market rent and the geared-to-income rent the household is able to pay.
  • Current portfolio of about 3,500 units delivered by over 120 private and non-profit landlords across Ottawa.

For landlords

If you are a private landlord and are interested in participating in the Rent Supplement program, please contact the Rent Supplement office at 613-580-2680.

For tenants

To make an application for subsidized housing in Ottawa, please contact The Social Housing Registry. The Registry is located at 2197 Riverside Drive, and can be reached by phone at 613-526-2088.

How it works:

  • Households who need a subsidy must apply to The Social Housing Registry, the agency contracted by the City to manage the centralized waiting list for social housing
  • As vacancies come up with rent supplement units, eligible people from the centralized waiting list are referred to the landlord
  • Tenant rent is based on income of the household at the time of renting the unit, which is calculated by the Rent Supplement office for private landlords, or directly by the non-profit social housing providers
  • Tenants pay their share of the rent directly to the landlord, and the Rent Supplement office pays the RGI subsidy, which is the balance, directly to the landlord
  • Tenant eligibility is reviewed annually, with rents adjusted to reflect income changes where needed
  • Reconciliation of accounts is done with each landlord on a regular basis to ensure subsidy is adjusted as needed.

Housing allowance

What it is:

  • A housing allowance is a benefit that can be paid directly to qualifying households on low income to help make the rent more affordable
  • In certain cases, the household can choose to have their housing allowance paid directly to their landlord
  • The set amount for most housing allowances is $250 for a single person and $50 for each additional family member
  • Households can choose to live in an appropriate rental housing unit anywhere in the city and the direct participation of their landlord is not needed
  • The household can choose to remain on the centralized waiting list for social housing and the Rent Supplement program while in receipt of a housing allowance

Who can receive a housing allowance?

Currently, housing allowances are only available to help people with the highest needs such as people who have been living on the street, people who have been homeless for a long time and living in emergency shelters for months or years, survivors of domestic violence, among others. Caseworkers work with clients to help them find housing and remain housed. To be eligible to qualify for a housing allowance, the household must be on the centralized wait list for social housing.

More information

For more information about subsidized housing, please contact us at 613-580-2680.

Social housing

Changes to social housing rules

Changes to the Wait List Rules for RGI Housing under the Housing Services Act, 2011. As of January 1, 2020, if you are applying for rent-geared-to-income (RGI) housing you will only receive one (1) offer of housing. If you refuse the one (1) offer, your application on the wait list will be cancelled and your file will be closed.

Please keep your application up to date. This includes your phone number, email address and your housing preferences. For more information, please contact the Social Housing Registry of Ottawa.

Changes to Rent Calculations for RGI Housing under the Housing Services Act, 2011

As of July 1, 2020, everyone in receipt of rent-geared-to-income (RGI) assistance is moving to a simplified rent calculation process. The RGI rent will be based on your annual income tax information.

Starting January 1, 2020 all rent-geared-to-income households will be required to file income taxes each year.

As of January 1, 2020 all rent-geared-to-income households are required to file income taxes each year.

Facts at a glance:

  • The City’s Housing Services branch administers and funds social housing in Ottawa
  • There are about 22,500 social housing units
  • Rental rates for those in receipt of rent-geared-to-income (RGI) assistance within social housing are typically set according to the renter’s income, with households paying no more than 30 per cent of their income towards rent
  • There are 52 independent non-profit housing organizations that operate social housing across the city
  • The demand for social housing is much greater than the supply
  • There are approximately 10,000 households on the centralized waiting list for social housing
  • Wait times for social housing in Ottawa can be up to five years or more

Applying for social housing

To apply for social housing in Ottawa, contact The Social Housing Registry.

You can also download and print the Application Form for Subsidized Housing, which contains all of the required information and documents.

For information on the social housing providers and communities in the City of Ottawa, please review The Social Housing Registry – List of Housing Providers.

Financial assistance

If you need help with living costs, please contact 3-1-1, select language of choice and "4" for Social Services.

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



  • 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
  • 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


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

Point-in-Time Count 2018

Over a 24-hour period on April 19 to 20, 2018, the City of Ottawa in collaboration with 59 community partners conducted a Point-in-Time Count. The purpose of the count was to provide a snapshot of our population experiencing homelessness and to set the foundation to measure our progress towards eliminating chronic homelessness by 2024.

Point-in-Time Count 2018 - Results.

Point-in-Time Count 2018 - Report