On May 24th, Council approved an investment plan to spend $48.5 million in provincial funding in 2023 and 2024 under the Homelessness Prevention Program. The plan is to provide long-term housing allowances, a landlord damage fund for Ottawa’s Housing First program, outreach to those living outdoors, emergency shelters and transitional housing, and a variety of other services and supports. The City will also pilot a new housing benefit for large families experiencing chronic homelessness and continue to fund a project to prevent singles in receipt of social assistance to enter the shelter system.
The City has advocated for more homelessness prevention funding since the Province announced its funding plans. Should more funds be forthcoming, the City would invest based on community need.
The City will also consolidate its three existing municipal funding streams into a unified homelessness funding portfolio to ensure flexibility in responding to emerging local needs by investing where the funds will be most effective.
Council also received an overview of Ottawa’s 9-1-1 telephone service for 2021 and 2022, including key performance metrics and call volume statistics. Calls to 9-1-1 have increased steadily since 2020, with the Ottawa Police Service now handling approximately 350,000 calls a year. Average daily calls increased from 779 per day in 2020 up to 871 per day in 2021 and 955 per day in 2022.
The City is working with the Ottawa Police Services Board and key stakeholders to implement Next Generation 9-1-1 – a new digital system that will eventually allow residents to send real-time text messages, photos and videos to 9-1-1 operators.
Council approved an approach to investing $31.8 million over the next two years in social housing funding from the Canada-Ontario Community Housing Initiative (COCHI). COCHI is a provincial and federal program that seeks to keep community housing affordable, renew or repair existing social housing, and expand the community housing supply. The Province has allocated nearly $15.3 million for Ottawa in 2023-24 funding, and just over $16.5 million in 2024-25 funding. More than $28 million in COCHI funding will be invested to repair and retrofit existing social housing in Ottawa.