Subsidized housing

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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.

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.

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

Ottawa Rent-Geared-To-Income Guide

The Ottawa Rent-Geared-To-Income Guide is a handbook for housing providers on how to manage rent-geared-to-income assistance.  This information is required under section 54 of the Housing Services Act, 2011.

Within the Guide you will find the following information:

  • Page 17: City of Ottawa procedures for application
  • Page 135: City of Ottawa local eligibility rules – Note that Directive 10-02 has been replaced with Service Manager Directive 17-02. Service Manager Directive 17-02 was replaced with 20-02. Service Manager 20-02 was replaced with 21-01 (Local Rent Geared to Income Eligibility Rules [ PDF - 427 KB ]
  • Page 139: City of Ottawa occupancy standards – Note that Directive 10-01 has been replaced with Service Manager Directive 17-01.  Service Manager Directive 17-01 was replaced with 20-01 (Local Occupancy Standards and Local Priority Rules)  [ PDF - 448 KB ]
  • Pages 26 – 31: City of Ottawa system for selecting households including:
    • rules for determining whether a unit that becomes vacant should be occupied by a household that will be receiving Rent Geared to Income assistance
    • priority rules for households waiting for Rent Geared to Income assistance
    • rules governing the selection by a housing provider of households to occupy units or receive Rent Geared to Income
  • Pages 40 – 46: Rules for initial and ongoing eligibility for RGI assistance
  • Page 28: Provincial and Local Priorities to access RGI housing

Housing resources

  • Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation – the Government of Canada's authority on housing.
  • Canadian Housing and Renewal Association – a national non-profit organization representing those who manage and deliver housing programs in communities across Canada.
  • Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation – established to ensure that human rights protections in housing would be effective for low income households and to address systemic barriers to accessing affordable accommodation.
  • Clinique juridique francophone – offers legal assistance to francophone tenants (available in French only).
  • Community Care Access Centre – a provincially-funded, charitable, non-profit organization providing home health care & support services, placement in long-term care facilities, and one-stop access to information and referral to related community resources.
  • Community Legal Services of Ottawa – provides free legal help to people of low income.
  • Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada (CHF Canada) – the national voice of Canada's co-operative housing movement.
  • Council on Aging – established in 1975 in response to a need for a coordinating body to deal with the concerns of senior citizens, particularly in the health and education fields.
  • Federation of Canadian Municipalities – the national voice of municipal governments, dedicated to improving the quality of life in all communities by promoting strong, effective and accountable municipal government.
  • Homes for the Aged – Since 1969, the Region has been providing institutional long-term care. The Homes for the Aged staff members are committed to providing quality care and services to persons who can no longer live independently.
  • Landlords Self-Help Centre – a specialty clinic within the province-wide community legal clinic system funded by Legal Aid Ontario. Landlord's Self-Help Centre provides services exclusively to small scale landlords in Ontario.
  • Ontario Association of Non-Profit Homes and Services for Seniors – voluntary province wide organization which, for 78 years, has represented non-profit providers of services, care and housing for seniors.
  • Ministry of Housing - leads the government of Ontario’s efforts to ensure everyone in Ontario has an affordable, suitable and adequate home.
  • Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association (ONPHA) is the official voice of non-profit housing in Ontario
  • Landlord and Tenant Board – established to resolve disputes between landlords and tenants and provide information about the Tenant Protection Act.
  • Social Planning Council of Ottawa – the SPC applies research and long-term planning to pressing social problems. Working with community groups and concerned citizens, we gather information and develop alternative solutions. To get the word out to decision-makers, the media, and the public, we communicate via publications, fact sheets, town hall meetings, and the Internet.