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Ottawa’s Homelessness Report Card

Yesterday the Alliance to End Homelessness released their annual report card on how Ottawa is doing on the homelessness issue.

Not so good, apparently:

Based on a selection of indicators in each category in 2009, compared to those same indicators in 2008, Ottawa scored:

D for homelessness
E for length of shelter stay
C for housing
C for income.

If my kid came home from school with a report card like that, I’d say he wasn’t even trying.

The full 16-page document, which has TONS of interesting information, is available as a PDF here.

Here is a very small sampling:

*Only 88 new units of affordable housing and supportive housing were created in Ottawa in 2009. (And 55 of them are in my back yard.)

*The number of households on the social housing waiting list increased from 9,692 to to 10,235.
(That list is years long, by the way. I forget how many years – eight maybe? – but it’s so long it makes no sense to even bother getting on it if you’re a family in need.)

*Rents increased by 3.1% compared to 1.2% in prices generally.

*Social assistance rates did not keep pace with rent increases.

*There was a 9% increase in the number of children using emergency shelters.

*There was a 5% increase in the number of youth using emergency shelters.

*There was a 4% increase in the number of families using emergency shelters.

*The length of the average stay for a family in an emergency shelter increased to 64 days.

If you look at average rents relative to the amount of money people receive on social assistance, Ottawa’s worsening homelessness situation makes perfect mathematical sense.

Average Rents in Ottawa, 2000-2009*
2000 2008 2009 Yearly income needed**
Bachelor $573 $671 $688 $27,520
1-Bedroom $723 $827 $853 $34, 120
2-Bedroom $877 $995 $1,028 $41,120
3-Bedroom $1,056 $1,227 $1,257 $50,280
*Compare this to the rates for a single person on Ontario Works, which is $589/month, or on Ontario Disability Benefits, which is $1,042.
**Spending less than 30% of pre-tax income on housing is Canada’s affordability standard.

This is the sixth annual report card on homelessness from the Alliance to End Homelessness, which is a coalition of organizations. This year, for the first time, they’ve set annual goals, which, if met, will end homelessness in Ottawa in ten years. It’s do-able, but I doubt very much it’ll be done.

6 comments to Ottawa’s Homelessness Report Card

  • XUP

    A kid with a report card like that could be trying in his own special way — he might have a learning disability or be intellectually challenged or maybe the subject is of absolutely no interest to him and he’s focussing his energies in other areas like nest-feathering or self-promotion

  • Bethany

    Seems like maybe the funds currently being flushed down the loo for the “war on crime” might be better used to help remedy the homeless situation in Ottawa. I wonder if cold hard facts mean anything to those in charge?

  • reb

    As I had the report card early I was able to use the report card marks to help my son feel better about his recent report card.

    I am dreading the numbers that we will have to work with next year as I am already seeing signs that worry me.

  • TechWood

    In various places on the planet, people – whole communities and government are working together to ensure affordable housing is available. Unfortunately, for the most part it’s only occurring in areas where natural disasters have hit. Why most societies have to hit rock bottom before anyone is willing to deal with an issue is beyond me – but it seems to be an ever-repeating trend.

  • You’re pretty accurate on the housing waiting list–4 to 8 years when last I checked. That’s kind of one of the things I drop kicked mister McGuinty over in my second email to him re: ODSP lack of financing.

  • In Philadelphia, they have a 10 year plan. In one part (you have to figure out a roundabout way of reading this document as the web site is perpetually down), they said “homeless people are poor”. Imagine that.