Progress Report on Ending Homelessness in Ottawa

From the Alliance to End Homelessness listserve, which can be accessed here:

Signs of Progress alongside Emerging Challenges in updated Portrait of Homelessness in Ottawa

The latest Progress Report on Ending Homelessness (attached), providing a statistical overview of homelessness in Ottawa in 2015 (January to December), was released by the Alliance to End Homelessness Ottawa on Tuesday, April 26.

There are signs of progress. For the first time in nine years, we see a reduction in the average number of nights per year that individuals stay in emergency shelters (from 78 days in 2014, to 73 days in 2015). This reduction may reflect the results of targeted initiatives to implement Ottawa’s ten-year housing and homelessness plan. The plan, passed in 2013, prioritizes permanent housing for individuals with long histories of shelter use.

“While there are signs of progress in 2015, there remain some troubling facts: the lowest number of new affordable homes created in ten years, a rise in the numbers of families experiencing homelessness, and a growing proportion of older adults among the homeless population,” noted Mike Bulthuis, Executive Director of the Alliance.

For individuals and families who become homeless, a quick return to permanent housing, along with connections to services, is paramount. However, while additional units are under construction, only 46 new affordable homes (including new units and new subsidies) were created in 2015. The number – the lowest since 2005 – is insufficient to respond to the 10,099 Ottawa households on the Centralized Waiting List for subsidized housing.

Overall, 4.9% more individuals stayed at an emergency shelter in 2015 compared to 2014 (rising to 6,825 individuals in 2015 from 6,508 individuals in 2014). This increase is almost entirely attributable to a rise in family homelessness. John Sylvestre, Director, Centre for Research on Educational and Community Services, University of Ottawa, notes: “In 2015, more than one in five of Ottawa’s shelter users were children aged 17 and under. While local programs have contributed to significantly reducing the likelihood that families return to homelessness once becoming housed, it is clear that the cost of housing is a barrier for more and more families.”

“In Ottawa, we need to build on what is working and direct our collective attention to other areas of concern,” noted Bulthuis. “As 2015 ended, attention from senior levels of government and from within the community was clear. This is the time to translate commitments to meaningful action.”

The entire Report (in English and French) can be accessed at:

A special insert on Family Homelessness in Ottawa is attached, and can also be accessed (in English and French) online at:
Mike Bulthuis
Executive Director
Alliance to End Homelessness Ottawa
171 George Street, Ottawa ON K1N 5W5
Office: 613-241-1573 x 314
Mobile: 613-222-9831



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