Ontario Renovates program
Residential Services Homes (Domiciliary Hostels)
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
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
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. 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.
What we want
What we will do
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.
What we want
What we will do
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.
What we want
What we will do
 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.
 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.
10-Year Housing and Homelessness Plan Progress Report
We are pleased to introduce the City of Ottawa’s update on the 10-Year Housing and Homelessness Plan. This progress report provides a snapshot of the housing needs in our community and the success we have had to date in creating a city where access to affordable housing is improved and people receive the supports they need to maintain their housing as their life circumstances change. We remain committed in continuing to create a city... where everyone has a place to call home.
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 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.
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).
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
- 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
- Community Legal Services
- Provides free legal help to people of low income
1 Nicholas Street, Suite 422
Ottawa, ON, K1N 7B7
- Clinique Juridique Francophone de l'Est d'Ottawa
- Offers legal assistance to francophone tenants
Vanier Community Service Centre
290 Dupuis Street
Ottawa, ON, K1L 1A2
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
Toll-Free: 1-800-263-1139, ext. 1