Housing Crisis and Emergency Declared in Ottawa

Ottawa City Council declared the state of homelessness in the nation’s capital to be an “emergency and crisis,” making Ottawa the first city in Canada to make such a declaration. Councillor Catherine McKenney’s motion was passed by a vote of 20-0, indicating a unanimous agreement that the situation with homelessness in Ottawa is a serious issue. According to Councillor Jeff Leiper, the homelessness situation in Ottawa should be considered an emergency due to the fact that “[human] lives are at stake,” while Councillor McKenney cited that strong language is crucial to informing the most vulnerable among us that the council is not ignoring them.

City Council’s decision is very crucial to our mission at Bruce House. We strive to make sure that people living with HIV/AIDS are able to live their lives with dignity, and housing is absolutely essential to our clients feeling safe and for them to better manage HIV by adhering to treatment and attending medical appointments. By recognizing that homelessness in our city is an emergency and crisis, Council has shed a light on the reality of just how dire the situation with homelessness is in the nation’s capital.

The way forward will require commitment from all levels of government.  The City of Ottawa needs an additional $22 million to meet housing needs in 2020, which will grow to $67 million by 2024.

  • Bandar Osman, Bruce House volunteer

Homelessness in Ottawa:

  • 35 households are on the Bruce House waiting list for an affordable and appropriate home
  • In 2017, over 7500 individuals and families were homeless in Ottawa [source]
  • In 2018 over 10,500 households in Ottawa were waiting for spot to open in the less than 15,000 social housing units available [source]
  • Vacancy rates in Ottawa are well below 2%
  • The average cost of a bachelor in Ottawa was $881 in 2018, and $1088 for a 1-bedroom [source]; meanwhile the Ontario Disability Support Program typically provides up to $497/month for shelter [source]
  • 147,430 people in Ottawa experienced poverty last year- 37,130 of them children [source]