What is our emergency shelter system?
The City ensures that people experiencing homelessness in our communities are able to access emergency shelters when needed. The City owns and operates one family shelter and partners with eight community shelters to provide a variety of services: a place to sleep, meals, case management and referrals to community supports.
The City also responds to emergencies, providing temporary housing to residents displaced by events such as fires, floods and tornadoes.
People experience homelessness for many different reasons, including addiction issues, inability to pay rent or mortgage, incarceration and unsafe housing conditions. Each case is unique and households are assessed to determine whether they can be diverted from entering a shelter. Diversion is about trying to resolve problems at the front end, before shelter entry, through accessing natural supports. Those supports might include identifying alternate housing, even for the short-term, or connecting people to community and financial resources.
Only if diversion is not possible does the household enter a shelter. Ottawa has access to 967 permanent shelter beds, 100 permanent transitional housing beds and 422 overflow beds, funded by the City. The City also enters into agreements with hotels and motels for overflow beds when our permanent bed capacity for families is full. Our goal is to ensure people have a safe place to stay.
The number of households, particularly families, seeking temporary shelter in Ottawa has risen significantly since late 2016. The increase has strained our emergency shelter system requiring us to use more hotels and motels to fill the gap.
- What can we do to minimize the use of hotel/motels when demand for emergency shelter placements remains high?
Consultation has concluded