City struggling to address homelessness, mid-term report shows

By Aaron Hemens

The City of Ottawa revealed that little progress has been made to address homelessness in a mid-term report on its 10-year plan to end homelessness on March 15.

Chronic homelessness has decreased by five per cent among singles in the shelter system, where 23 chronically homeless people were able to advance from the shelter system since the plan was enacted.

But Ottawa has seen a dramatic increase in the struggling families, with the number of chronically homeless families increasing by 143 per cent since 2014, with 236 families living in shelters for more than a month last year.

The city did, however, exceed many of its targets for providing housing subsidies and building affordable housing units.

In an interview with CBC News, Ray Sullivan, the executive director of the Centretown Citizens Ottawa Corporation, said that the common issues that lead to homelessness—such as employment rate, the cost of rental housing and social factors—are beyond the city’s control.

“Those are things that are difficult for the city to tackle on its own,” he said.

A week after the release of the mid-term report, Coun. Mark Taylor, the city’s special liaison on housing and homelessness, presented a 41-page report to council that said it would require significantly increased spending to seriously tackle homelessness in the city.

Notable recommendations in Taylor’s report include increased funding for emergency shelters, as well as building new family shelters. The cost of building such shelters was estimated at more than $16 million.