Unlocking the door to affordable living: exploring the mosaic of diverse housing solutions in Ottawa

Red and white townhomes lining a street on a sunny day. Several trees are planted in front of the homes.

Feature story

This story is part of the City of Ottawa Service Reviews: an initiative aimed at ensuring our services are meeting your needs. Visit ottawa.ca/YourIdeas today.

When it comes to affordable housing in Ottawa, it can be confusing to interpret exactly what that means. Making sure the city is affordable for all residents to live requires collaboration from the City’s housing team alongside multiple departments across all levels of government. The City of Ottawa’s efforts also rely on a network of community partners and volunteers, whose dedication and tireless work ensures residents have access to the housing-related programs and supports they need.

The City’s Housing team is dedicated to ensuring that programs and services are running smoothly in collaboration with community partners.

Helping residents experiencing homelessness or who are in need of extra support

You might remember Aysha from a past feature story on how the City and its community partners work with residents living in encampments. Aysha and other members of her team work closely with partners to ensure that unsheltered residents have access to shelters and services, should they want them. 

Several programs exist to help residents in need of housing. These involve working very closely with community groups who provide on-the-ground services and shelters for unhoused clients. These shelters not only offer a roof over one's head but also extend a compassionate hand through counseling, addiction support and pathways to housing and employment.

In 2022, the City opened the Catherine Street Community Hub. Here, residents can find a variety of City and community social support services, or even just a safe and quiet place to rest. The hub also welcomed the Centretown Community Food Centre last year to make things more accessible for residents living in the area.

Ensuring access to affordable, subsidized and supportive housing

For the past several years, the Housing team has been focused on increasing the availability of affordable housing units. Their work not only addresses the immediate housing crisis, but also contributes to the broader goal of creating a sustainable solution to housing in the city.

Currently, there are approximately 22,500 community housing units across Ottawa, with more being built each year. There are several types of housing that the City supports:

  • Affordable housing – The City works with private and not-for-profit sectors to develop affordable housing at no higher than 80 per cent of the average market rent. By collaborating with non-profit and other developers, affordable housing creates a bridge between those in need and affordable housing, fostering a sense of stability and security.
  • Subsidized housing – There are several programs available for residents in need of support to pay rent including Rent-Geared-to-Income (RGI) assistance and portable housing benefits. Landlords looking to offer affordable units can also apply to the Rent Supplement Program with the City.
  • Supportive housing  Residents living in supportive housing have access to additional services onsite, including access to a social worker, mental health services and more.

As Ottawa continues to evolve, the City’s commitment to compassion and inclusivity remains unwavering. Through a multifaceted approach that combines emergency shelters, supportive services and long-term housing solutions, the City stands as a model for how communities can come together to ensure that everyone, regardless of circumstance, has a place to call home.

If you or someone you know is needing support, visit ottawa.ca/SocialServicesTo learn more about Housing Services with the City, or to read about the 10-Year Housing and Homelessness Plan, visit ottawa.ca.

Your city, your ideas!

This feature story is another example of how the City of Ottawa is constantly working to create a city that has access to affordable housing. Do you have creative ideas related to this or other City services? Share your ideas at engage.ottawa.ca/LiveableForAll(link is external).

For more information on City programs and services, visit ottawa.ca, call 3-1-1 (TTY: 613-580-2401) or 613-580-2400 to contact the City using Canada Video Relay Service. You can also connect with us through Facebook(link is external)X (formerly Twitter)(link is external) and Instagram(link is external).

Fact sheet: Strategies, initiatives and policy development

  • The City of Ottawa’s Housing Services team has a number of strategies, initiatives and policies focused on housing and homelessness.
  • The 10-Year Housing and Homelessness Plan (2020-2030)Opens in a new tab or window(link is external) identifies current and future housing needs, priorities, targets and performance measures. Objectives under this plan include increasing the supply of affordable housing by creating 5,700 to 8,500 new affordable housing options over the ten-year period, reducing homelessness and improving client experience across the housing system. 
  • In the fall of 2023, Housing Services brought forward its first Term of Council 2023-2026 Affordable Housing Capital Strategy and Update(link is external).
  • The investments outlined in the strategy will ensure 408 units underway can reach completion within the next 12 to 18 months and commits funding toward the construction of 54 new supportive housing units.
  • Since this strategy was approved, the 2024 City of Ottawa Budget was adopted. This budget provides a one-time increase to the capital affordable housing budget from $16 million in 2023 to $30 million in 2024 which will help to support the delivery of more affordable housing.

There are various initiatives to support individuals and families experiencing homelessness by improving clients’ experience across the housing system:  

  • The Integrated Transition to Housing Strategy (ITHS)(link is external) outlines short, medium and long-term initiatives to assist single adults experiencing homelessness to transition to housing while addressing immediate pressures in the shelter system. The 2024 Budget committed $5 million operating funding towards this strategy. Initiatives under the ITHS include: 
    • A new enhanced housing allowance pilot that is anticipated to support up to 120 single people experiencing homelessness transition from the shelter to permanent affordable housing.
    • The development of a new supportive housing hub located at 1245 Kilborn Place. The hub will facilitate community and health services, the development of a range of new housing options, and will offer options for systems and resource coordination. The 2023-2026 Affordable Housing Capital Strategy and Update committed $21.2 million to this project.  
  • The acquisition of a former retirement home located at 1 Corkstown Road that will be used to temporarily house families with children and provides opportunities for onsite programming and will support the transition of families to long-term housing.   

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