The work of The Ottawa Mission can be witnessed every day in the lives of the individuals that we help. Whether it’s providing a place to sleep, a meal, or offering job training, The Ottawa Mission changes lives every day.
From its inception in 1906, The Ottawa Mission has been propelled by Christian spirit. Our founders were motivated by the desire to help those who do not have the resources to help themselves, and this same spirit continues to guide us today. The Mission provides not only food, clothing, and shelter, but a wide variety of innovative life-changing programs that help people regain their dignity and provide hope for a better future. These programs include addiction treatment, education and job training, employment and housing services, medical and dental care, and hospice care.
2017 Fast Facts
- Meals Served: 477,420 (1,308 per day)
- Average # of beds occupied each night: 233
- Occupancy rate: 98%
- # of Individuals Provided with Shelter: 1,982
- Average length of stay: 32 days
- Average age of residents: 45
- Client Visits to clothing room: 6,780
Learn more about our Food, Clothing & Shelter services
- # of clients referred to the Royal Ottawa Hospital Outreach program: 48
- # of long term residents with severe and persistent mental health issues that were connected with our CMHA Transitional Case Manager: 17
- # of client visits for mental health support from Mission staff: 86
Audited Financial Statements
Frequently Asked Questions
The Ottawa Mission started in 1906, over a hundred years ago. It was originally called the Union Mission for Men and was founded by a group of Christian businessmen who wanted to help other men facing difficult times in the early 1900’s. Those in need were provided with the basics of food, shelter, and clothing (when it was available). Many of the reasons people needed help back then are the same as now: lack of education, lack of employment, shortage of affordable housing, addiction, physical and mental health problems, family breakdown, etc. Today the Ottawa Mission has 256 beds, including 21 beds for palliative nursing care and 36 beds for addiction treatment programs. As well, there is an overflow area where 20 floor mats can be put down when the beds are full. The Mission also houses a learning center, runs a job training program in the kitchen, houses a medical/dental clinic for people in shelters and operates addiction treatment programs.
The Ottawa Mission started as, and still is, a shelter for homeless men. Women can access the shelter’s community meals as well as many other daytime services such as the Client Services Center, the Primary Medical Clinic, and the Stepping Stones Learning Center. But if women need shelter, we refer them to one of several small shelters specifically for women in the community. Women can access our Hospice nursing beds if they are homeless and dealing with a terminal illness. Men staying at The Mission must be over the age of 18. Other agencies in Ottawa serve homeless youth, such as the Youth Services Bureau and Operation Come Home. In 2015, we sheltered an average of 220 people every night – an occupancy rate of 86 percent. 1,982 different people stayed at The Mission last year and the average length of stay with us was 32 days. The Mission also serves an average of 1,308 meals every day, and more than double that on holidays – that’s just over 477,000 meals a year. Some of the food we serve is donated to us, but we still have to purchase a lot of food in bulk to meet the growing demand.
The Ottawa Mission will not turn anyone away. Often times in the winter, our dorm rooms are completely full. Front Line staff at The Mission will keep in contact with other shelters and send men to those places if our beds are occupied and they have openings. However, there are many nights when mats are placed on the floor of The Mission Chapel for overflow when all the beds are full.
The biggest need is food and the kitchen at The Ottawa Mission serves an average of 1,308 meals a day. Meals are served to the residents of the shelter as well as to many people who live in the community, but have little money for food. Some of the other daily requests at the shelter are for things like men’s toiletries (shaving cream, razors, toothbrushes, toothpaste) and socks and underwear. In the winter, there are also daily requests for gloves, toques and winter coats and boots.
It’s impossible to pinpoint a leading cause of homelessness. Research shows many factors can play a part, such as family breakdown, unemployment, mental health issues, addiction, and a shortage of affordable, safe housing.
The Ottawa Mission receives roughly 48% of its funding from government sources (the majority from City of Ottawa Social Services department) and 52% of the funds are donated by generous people and companies in our community. A total of 85 full time employees now work at The Ottawa Mission (and a few part-time as well) as it is a 24 hour operation that is open 365 days of the year – The Ottawa Mission never closes.
The Ottawa Mission has always offered the basic needs to those who are homeless – food, shelter, and clothing. In the past several years, The Mission has created and expanded programs and services to help people transition out of a homeless shelter and move back into their own home in the community. Those programs include Healthcare Services, Client Services and Addiction Services. To learn more about the services offered in each department, please go to The Ottawa Mission website homepage and look under “How We Help”.
The Ottawa Mission has an average of 250 volunteers helping out every week! The Mission could not help as many people as it does without their support. Volunteers help with things such as food preparation in the kitchen, organizing clothing donations, tutoring people in the learning center, sitting with those who are very sick in the Hospice and organizing special activity nights for men staying at the shelter. All volunteers are required to submit an application and sign a confidentiality agreement. Many volunteer tasks do not require specialized skills, but there are some exceptions. For example, The Ottawa Mission dental clinic is staffed entirely by volunteer dentists from the community who are licensed dental professionals or supervised dental students.
People in the community can donate their time or money to agencies like The Ottawa Mission that help people who are homeless. They can also take the time to educate themselves about the issues surrounding poverty and homelessness.