Network, Spring/Summer 2005
According to the first annual ‘Report Card on Homelessness in Ottawa,’ 8,664 people were homeless and stayed in a shelter at some point in 2004. That figure represents single men and women, youth, and families, including 1,092 children. While the nation’s capital has 22,400 social housing units, there are 10,500 people on the waiting list. The number of supportive housing units is 500.
Published by the Alliance to End Homelessness, a coalition of community stakeholders, the report card creates a profile of the current situation by drawing together a variety of figures: vacancy rate, average rents, Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program benefits, availability of housing and support services, eviction data, and a demographic portrait of the people who are homeless. These indicators, say the authors, will be used as a benchmark to measure ‘future progress or lack of progress in Ottawa.’
‘Shelter is the first but not the only need,’ continues the report. Chronic health problems, including mental illness, often accompany long periods of homelessness. One of several organizations providing care for the homeless population is the Canadian Mental Health Association, Ottawa Branch. In addition to offering long-term case management through community support workers, CMHA Ottawa helps people with severe and persistent mental illness to access and maintain suitable accommodation, including integrated housing situations in the community.
For more information, see ‘Experiencing Homelessness: The First Report Card on Homelessness in Ottawa, 2005,’ at www.unitedwayottawa.ca.
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