Housing Navigation in Ottawa

This page offers information to help navigate housing and emergency shelter resources in Ottawa.

This housing navigation resource was created by the Housing Navigators of Developmental Services Ontario Eastern Region (DSOER). Please send questions, feedback or suggestions to: DSOHousing@DSOER.ca.

Ministry Funded Supportive Housing for Adults Living With a Developmental Disability

Housing supports are provided by agencies and funded by the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services (MCCSS). Here
are some types of housing supports that may be available in your community:

Group homes and group living supports

  • You will live with a few unrelated people
  • Provide you with support for up to 24 hours per day
  • Accommodate you based on your needs and abilities

Supported independent living

  • You live more independently
  • Someone helps you with daily activities
  • You receive between 2 to 10 hours of support weekly
  • You do not require overnight assistance

Host family home/associate living support

  • You live with a family who can provide you with care and supports
  • You are encouraged to become an active member of the household
  • You are matched with a family that has similar interests, needs and lifestyle

Contact your local DSO for more information: https://www.dsontario.ca/find-your-dso

Housing Continuum

The housing continuum is, at its simplest, the range of housing types available in a community — from homeless on one end, all the way to homeownership on the other. In between lies an assortment of housing options and types, each critically important for different people at different times.

HomelessEmergency SheltersTransitional HousingSocial HousingAffordable Rental HousingAffordable Home OwnershipMarket Rental HousingMarket Home Ownership

Housing Continuum


Homelessness describes the situation of someone who is without stable, permanent and appropriate housing.


Homeless Help

  • In case of emergency call 911
  • If you or someone you know needs street outreach, call 311
  • The services listed are funded or operated by the City of Ottawa – click the images below to learn more
  • If you are looking for services not found here, call 211

Housing Help Centres

Housing Help Centres are usually non- profit agencies that provide information, resources and assistance, to help people find and keep housing, and avoid eviction. The services offered may vary by location, contact your local Housing Help Centre to learn more.

Housing help services are available in most shelters and many drop-ins as well.

Services may include:

  • Help completing applications for social housing
  • Help with updating your existing application for social housing
  • Help with issues with current housing
  • Mediation between renters and landlords
  • Assistance if you need to contact the Landlord Tenant Board (LTB)
  • Financial assistance if you are behind on your rent or utilities

Emergency Shelters

These facilities are designed to meet the immediate needs of people who are homeless. Such short-term emergency shelters may target specific sub-populations, including women, families, youth or Aboriginal persons. These shelters typically have minimal eligibility criteria, offer shared sleeping facilities and amenities, and often expect clients to leave in the morning. They may or may not offer food, clothing or other services.

Ottawa Shelter Intake: 3-1-1 or toll-free at 1-866-261-9799

Emergency Shelters

Transitional Housing

Transitional housing can be described as a temporary step between emergency and permanent housing. It is long-term, and offers more support than an emergency shelter. It differs from other types of supportive housing, as it is only temporary.

Transitional Housing

Social Housing

(Also known as: Rent-Geared-to-Income or Subsidized Housing)

Social Housing

Rent-Geared-to-Income (RGI)

Rent-Geared-to-Income (RGI), or subsidized housing, is made available by the City of Ottawa to make rent more affordable for households. In most cases, the rent for a subsidized unit is 30 per cent of a household’s total monthly income. If you receive social assistance, the rent is based on the rent benefit set by the Ontario government.

There is one central waiting list for social housing in Ottawa, that provides access to Rent-Geared-to-Income, Housing Allowances and the Canada Ontario Housing Benefit (COHB).

Rent-Geared-to-Income and Rent Supplements A type of subsidized housing where rent is based on your income (in most cases, the rent for a subsidized unit is 30 per cent of a household’s total monthly income).
Housing Allowance A non-repayable subsidy to help eligible households pay rent (usually available to a specified group, e.g., homeless, etc.).
Canada Ontario Housing Benefit (COHB) This portable housing benefit is a monthly subsidy provided to low- income households to assist with housing costs. It is tied to the household, and can be used to help pay rent anywhere in Ontario.

Applying for Social Housing

In Ottawa, The Registry manages the centralized waiting list for social housing.

The application can be completed online. If you have questions about the application process, you can call The Registry at 613-526-2088 to speak with someone Monday to Friday from 8:30am to 4:30pm.

There are also Housing Help Centers that can assist with completing an application.

To apply for Rent-Geared-to-Income housing, you will need to upload the following documents for all household members:

  • Legal status in Canada documentation for all household members
  • The Consent and Declaration form for all household members over 16 years of age (provided in the application)
  • Income (Notice of Assessment), including income generated from assets is to be declared in the application
  • Information about any money owed to, or re-payment plans with a Social Housing Provider (for those who have accessed social housing in the past)

Affordable Rental Housing

In affordable rental housing, rent is usually set between 80% -100% of Average Market Rent AMR (as determined by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), based on unit size).

Affordable rental housing can be in privately owned buildings, non-profits or city owned housing.

You can often stay on the Rent-Geared-to-Income waiting list if you accept a unit through the Affordable Rental Housing Program.

The 10-Year Housing and Homelessness Plan 2020 – 2030 aims to create 5,700 to 8,500 new affordable housing options through new units and housing subsidies. There are currently 14,957 Rent-geared to income units in Ottawa.

Affordable Rental Housing

Searching for Rental Housing

Internet Search

Use filter options on these sites to search for places that fit preferences. Alerts can be set to notify when new ads are posted.

Facebook Marketplace

  • Visit Facebook Marketplace on your Facebook page, click on the Marketplace icon located at the top of the screen. Then click on the rental icon.
  • Search options such as city, kms (distance) away, price range, bedrooms, etc.

Look for Signage

  • Drive/walk/bike around preferred neighborhoods.
  • Landlords and property managers will often post signs out front where there are units for rent.
  • Some landlords post signs in places like grocery stores, libraries and/or community centers too.

Things to Consider Before Renting a Unit

Some landlords/property managers prefer calls, some use email or the messaging system through an ad site (such as Kijiji messaging). Many ads also ask very specific questions to assess applicants.


  • Prepare your list of questions before you call, and keep a pen and paper handy to write down the answers.
  • Remember to present yourself professionally, and that there may be several other applicants competing for the unit.


  • Arrive on time and well prepared.
  • Introduce yourself, and have your references ready to give to the landlord/property manager.

To support your rental application, landlords/property manager may ask to see your driver’s license or other ID. They may ask where you work, and permission to run a credit check. There are rules about your privacy that must be respected.

Make sure you understand the application process, ask questions if needed. Fill in the application form (paper copy/ online). Inquire about the deposit fees and next steps.

A successful applicant will be asked to sign a lease. Upon signing you will usually be required to pay last month’s rent. Then first month’s rent is due on the 1st day of the month you have rented the apartment for (make sure to get receipts).

For more tips: https://bit.ly/CMHC_IWantToRent

Landlord Responsibilities

According to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC)

  • Landlords are legally obliged to ensure that the rental unit complies with the standards for:
    • Health
    • Safety
    • Housing
    • Maintenance
  • Before renting a property, it must meet:
    • Municipal property standards
    • Zoning bylaws
    • Fire safety regulations
    • Local building codes
  • Landlords must:
    • Maintain the tenant’s home in a good state of repair and fit for habitation and at the landlord’s expense
    • Always ensure a reasonable supply of fuel, electricity, hot and cold water and other utility services (cable, Internet)
    • Not seize, without legal process, a tenant’s property for rent default or for the breaking of any other obligation of the tenant.
    • Not harass, obstruct, coerce, threaten or interfere with the tenant.

For more information, visit: https://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/consumers/renting-a-home/i-am-renting/landlord-tenant-responsibilities

Tenant Responsibilities Include:

  • Pay rent on time
  • Behave well, clean the rental premises, repair damage caused by an accident or deliberate act of the tenant or a person whom the tenant permits on the premis
  • Do not harass, obstruct, coerce, threaten or interfere with the landlord
  • Contact the landlord as soon as possible when a problem arises involving repair services
  • Permit entry (with proper notice) for repairs or showing of the home for the next tenant or purchaser
  • Honor your rental agreement or lease: follow the terms in your rental agreement or lease

For more information, visit: Tenants – rights and responsibilities | City of Ottawa

Tenant Rights

CLEO produces clear, accurate and practical legal information to help people understand and exercise their legal rights.

Visit their website for more details: https://www.cleo.on.ca/en

Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation (CERA) provides free services to renters facing eviction and human rights violations in their housing.

Visit their website for more details: https://www.equalityrights.org

The Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario (ACTO) is a specialty community legal clinic with a provincial mandate to advance and protect the interests of low-income tenants. We specialize in housing issues related to tenants in Ontario.

ACTO is a non-partisan and non-governmental advocacy organization. Our client community includes a broad range of people living on low incomes who do not own their homes including residential tenants, members of non-profit housing co-operatives, homeless people and those who rent homes not subject to the Residential Tenancies Act.

ACTO also manages the Tenant Duty Counsel Program (TDCP) across Ontario. https://www.acto.ca/our-work/tenant-duty-counsel/

Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario – ACTO https://www.acto.ca/

Metis Housing Stabilization Fund

Funded through Reaching Home, a federal government program that is part of the Canadian Homelessness Strategy. The program provides housing loss prevention and housing stabilization services. It supports individuals and families who are homeless, at immediate risk of becoming homeless or in an unstable housing situation.


  • Registered Métis Nation of Ontario Citizen with valid citizenship number
  • Current resident of Ontario
  • Experiencing homelessness, at risk of homelessness, or precariously housed
  • Be a low-income household (to be assessed by Intake Coordinator)

Visit the website for more information: https://www.metisnation.org/programs-and-services/housing-infrastructure/metis-housing-stabilization-program/

Facing Eviction

These are the most common reasons set out by the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA):

• Arrears of rent
• Persistent late payment
• Damage
• Substantial interference with reasonable enjoyment of the unit
• Impairing safety
• Overcrowding
• Illegal Act
• Misrepresentation of income (if tenant pays Rent-Geared-to-Income)
• Landlord’s own use
• Purchaser’s own use
• Demolition, renovation or conversion

Eviction is the removal of a tenant from a rental property by the Landlord.

Stage 0 Stage 1 Stage 2 Stage 3 Stage 4
Informal Notice Eviction Notice Application to Evict Eviction Hearing Eviction Order
Landlord gives informal notice (typically verbal or non-official letter) Landlord gives you a formal Notice of Eviction Landlord submits an Eviction Application and you will receive a Notice of Hearing You and the landlord attend the hearing The landlord receives an eviction order and a Sheriff enforces the order

Facing Eviction – Obtaining Assistance

Resource Website
Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation (CERA) https://www.equalityrights.org/our-services
Action Housing https://www.action-logement.ca/en/home/
Legal Aid Ontario https://www.legalaid.on.ca/legal-clinics/
Understanding & Fighting Evictions https://www.cleo.on.ca/en/publications/carehome/eviction
Connecting Ottawa https://connectingottawa.com/legal-topics/housing-law/eviction/

Affordable Home Ownership

Affordable home ownership models use a variety of creative approaches (e.g., down-payment assistance, shared equity mortgages, etc.) to help lower-income individuals and families, who might not otherwise be able to purchase a home and/or afford the monthly cost of a mortgage.

Affordable Home Ornwership

Organizations and Initiatives

These are some of the organizations and initiatives that provide affordable home ownership options in Ottawa.

Housing Provider Website Phone Number
Aboriginals Purchasers:
Development Corporation
http://www.ontarioaboriginalhousing.ca/ 1-866-391-1061
Habitat For Humanity Ottawa https://habitatgo.com 613- 749-9950
First Time Home Buyer Incentive https://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/consumers/home-buying/first-time-home-buyer-incentive 1-877-884-2642
Options For Homes https://www.och-lco.ca 613-731-1182
CAHDCO https://www.cahdco.org/about-us/ 613-234-4065

Market Rental Housing

Market Rent is residential rent that is not classified as ‘subsidized rent’ or ‘affordable rent’ under any affordable housing program, but where you pay the amount advertised in the listing/advertisement.

Market Rental Housing

Market Home Ownership

Market Home Ownership is housing that is for sale in the open housing market, and the cost of the housing is not subsidized (reduced) in any way.

Market Home Ownership

Coach House Program

  • A Coach House means: A separate dwelling unit that is subsidiary to and located on the same lot as an associated principal dwelling unit, but is contained in its own building that may also contain uses accessory to the principal dwelling.
  • The City’s by-law defines a coach house and contains detailed performance standards that also apply to laneway houses.
  • If you live in Ottawa and would like to add an additional residential unit that is detached from your principal dwelling, check the City’s Official Plan and zoning by-law for important requirements and restrictions, such as water and sewage system servicing, location, maximum size and height of the coach or laneway house and parking. You can also find more information online.

Financial Assistance For Homeowners

Financial Assistance Details Website
Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) Low-income Ottawa residents may qualify for help from the City of Ottawa with energy-related emergencies to reconnect, prevent disconnection or to assist in the payment of energy arrears for hydro, gas or oil services. Low-Income Energy Assistance Program | Hydro Ottawa
Property Tax, Water & Solid Waste Relief Programs You may qualify for the Property Tax, Water and/or Solid Waste Relief programs if you are a low-income senior or a low- income person living with disabilities. Full property tax deferral program
Other Financial Help to Pay Utility Bills High utility bills put low-income homeowners and tenants at risk. The programs listed below may be able to provide financial help. For more details on eligibility and applying contact the program directly. Hydro Ottawa- Ontario Electricity Support Program

Ontario Electricity Support Program

Ontario Renovates program Provides limited funding to low income seniors and to persons with disabilities who own their home for essential repairs and accessibility modifications to support independent living. Ontario Renovates program | City of Ottawa

Services and Resources

See next sections for services and resources.

Home and Community Support Services

Some examples of home and community care services not an exhaustive (complete list):

Resource Website Contact
Support your way/Respite Services respiteservices.com – Home (supportyourway.ca) 613 -748-1788 ext. 240
Home and Community Care Support Services Home and Community Care Champlain LHIN 613-747-6784 | 1-866-902-5446
Eastern Ottawa Resource Centre Home – EORC (eorc-creo.ca) 613-741-6025
Lotus Respite Services Lotus Mental Health – Personalized Health 343-262-6080
Vanier Community Services Centre English – CSC Vanier 613.744.2892
Carefor Carefor Health & Community Services 613-749-7557

Mental Health and Crisis Services

Some examples of mental health and crisis services not an exhaustive (complete list):

If you are experiencing an emergency, call 911 or go to your closest hospital emergency room.

Resource Website Contact
Crisis Line 24/7 Home – Crisis Line 613-722-6914
Distress Centre of Ottawa 24/7 https://www.dcottawa.on.ca 613-238-3311 or Text 343-306-5550
Salus Ottawa Ottawa Salus Corporation – Community Mental Health Services Ottawa (salusottawa.org) 613-729-0123
Canadian Mental Health Association Services | CMHA Ottawa 613-737-7791
Family Service Ottawa (walk-ins) Programs & Services – CFSO (cfsottawa.ca) 613-233-8478
Mental Health and Addictions Ottawa (walk-ins) Our Services | Mental Health & Addiction Services of Ottawa | Ontario (mhaso.ca) 613-225-7272

Ottawa Drop-Ins

Drop-ins provide space where people who are homeless or in need of housing can feel safe and have their physical, social, and mental health needs met. By building relationships and offering opportunities for participation in the community, drop-ins play a key role in breaking down isolation, and supporting the development of critically important social connections.

For more information click on the link below:
Shelters and Drop-in Centres for Adults – Ottawa – champlainhealthline.ca

Hot Meals

Some examples of places to get hot meals not an exhaustive (complete list):

Resource Website Contact
Compiled by Centre Town Searches Hot Meals Click on Link for different services and contacts.
Meals on Wheels See link for options – Meals on Wheels (mealsonwheels-ottawa.org) 613-233-2424
City of Ottawa Meal Programs for Older Adults – Ottawa Public Health See link for options
Jewish Family Services of Ottawa Jewish Family Services of Ottawa – Kosher Meals on Wheels – champlainhealthline.ca 613-722-2225 ext 315

Food Banks

Some examples of food banks not an exhaustive (complete list):

Resource Website Contact
Canadian Red Cross https://www.redcross.ca/in-your-community/ontario/nutrition-and-transportation/mobile-food-bank/ 1-800-418-1111
Feed Ontario Find A Food Bank | Feed Ontario See locations
Food Banks and Community Food Programs Ottawa https://www.champlainhealthline.ca/listservices.aspx?id=10572&region=Ottawa See locations
Parkdale Food Centre (community outdoor fridge) Find Food – Parkdale Food Centre 613-722-8019
Ottawa Food Bank https://www.ottawafoodbank.ca/ 613-745-7001

Free and Affordable Furniture

Some examples of places you may find free and affordable furniture not an exhaustive (complete list):

Resource Website Contact
Habitat ReStore Ottawa www.habitatgo.com 613-744-7769
Value Village Ottawa www.valuevillage.ca 613-526-5551
Bank street
Salvation Army Ottawa www.salvationarmy.ca 613-241-1573
George street
Matthew House Ottawa Matthew House Ottawa 613-591-6681
Highjinx www.highjinxottawa.com 613-864-4289 | 613-298-8302

Free and Affordable Clothing

Some examples of places you may find free or affordable clothing not an exhaustive (complete list):

Resource Website Contact
The Community Thrift Shop The Community Thrift Shop | Community Outreach | St John the Evangelist (stjohnsottawa.com) 613-232-4500
Suits his Style (suits for men) Suits his Style – Home | Facebook (613) 518-1065
Caldwell Family Centre How We Help – The Caldwell Family Centre 613-728-1800
Society of St. Vincent De Paul Home | Saint Vincent de Paul Ottawa (stvincentdepaulonline.com) 613-722-7166
The Salvation Army Thrift store Multiple locations 613-241-1573 ext 268
(171 George St.)
Dress For Success https://ottawa.dressforsuccess.org/ 613-277-0111
Dress Your Best http://www.dressyourbest.ca/aboutus.php Email Contact Only: info@dressyourbest.ca

Employment Support

Some examples of employment support programs not an exhaustive (complete list):

Resource Website Contact
March of Dimes: Job search skills https://www.marchofdimes.ca/en-ca 1-833-612-6632
Ottawa Independent Living Resource Centre: Pre-employment skills https://oilrc.com/ 613-236-2558
ODSP: Your local ODSP caseworker may be able to help you connect with employment support opportunities. Ontario Disability Support Program 613-234-1188
Causeway: helping those with mental illness and other challenges find meaningful work. Employment Programs – Causeway 613-725-3494 Ext.115
CVE: Job Search training, Resume Preparation https://www.cve.ca/index.php/2021/11/26/odsp-ontario-disability-support-program/ 613-237-7368

Life Skills Programming and Resources

Some examples life skills programs and resources not an exhaustive (complete list):

Resource Website Contact
Residential Life Skills Program-Salvation Army http://www.ottawaboothcentre.org/?ID=58 613-241-1573
LiveWorkPlay https://liveworkplay.ca/ 613-235-9550
Y’s Owl Maclure Co-operative Centre https://ysowlmaclure.org/ 613-721-1500