A Plan to address Ottawa’s self-declared housing and homelessness emergency

The City of Ottawa declared a housing and homelessness emergency in January 2020. To address this emergency, the Official Plan needs to establish meaningful targets and timelines for new and retained affordable housing. It must also make plans for deeply affordable housing and adopt an income-based definition of affordable housing.

Identifying land for long-term, deeply affordable housing in close proximity to transit across the city is a priority if we are to meet the targets set in the 10-year Housing and Homelessness Plan.

Affordable housing is needed for households and families of all types and sizes, from single parents to multi-generational families who reside together. The targets and timelines should acknowledge this and use a gender and intersectional lens that accommodates Indigenous, racialized, and disabled groups who are hardest hit by the affordable housing emergency and exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

1. We want the Official Plan to acknowledge the housing and homelessness emergency on the first page, and establish a Housing Big Move.

2. We want the Official Plan to align with the National Housing Strategy Act (2019). It should explicitly commit to gradually realizing the right to adequate housing by 2046 and set an interim goal of ending chronic homelessness by 2030 (like Edmonton).

3. We want the Official Plan to be guided by a housing baseline needs assessment. This would establish the number of homeless and the number of households in housing stress, making it possible to monitor progress toward targets after each national census (like Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal).

4. We want the Official Plan to establish income and maximum rent housing targets, linked to the City’s 10-year housing and homelessness plan.

5. We want the Official Plan to include deeply affordable housing targets specific to 15-minute neighbourhoods, to ensure that gentrification does not lead to the displacement of marginalized and low-income households.