October 18, 2022

Ending Homelessness in Ottawa Should Be an Urgent Goal: New Poll

Poll shows that proposing concrete actions to end homelessness has positive impact on voters’ preferences

OTTAWA, ON – As we move closer to the October 24 municipal election, a new poll by Nanos Research shows strong support to address homelessness: Eight in ten residents agree that ending homelessness should be an urgent goal in Ottawa.

“Fueling this are concerns about the cost of housing: almost two in ten residents are worried or somewhat worried about paying their housing costs next month (9% each). Concern is also being driven by experience of homelessness: 12% report having a friend who has been homeless, 7% report a family member who has been homeless, and 4% report having been homeless themselves. Nine in ten Ottawa residents support (73%) or somewhat support (17%) building new affordable housing.” stated Nik Nanos, President of Nanos Research.

These results come almost three years after Ottawa City Council voted unanimously to declare a homelessness emergency in Ottawa in January 2020. At that point, there were over 8,000 people living in emergency shelters. Since the release of the city’s new 10-Year Housing and Homelessness Plan in 2020, the number of people in shelters and their total length of stay has declined. However, their total numbers and length of stay remains higher than what it was in 2014 when the city’s original 10-Year Plan was introduced, and the number of people sleeping outside has almost doubled, with 210 people estimated to be sleeping outside.

“For years prior to the pandemic, our shelter was at over 100% capacity each night, which meant we had to put mats down on our chapel floor so people would have somewhere to sleep. After the pandemic was declared, our occupancy rate declined from 110% to 94% due to the closure of 60 beds to minimize the risk of infection to clients by diverting clients to overflow shelters opened by the city. However, these spaces are now almost all closed and our occupancy rate has crept back up to almost 100%. With winter coming, more people sleeping outside and COVID-19 still present in our community, I fear for our clients and other vulnerable community members,” stated Peter Tilley, Ottawa Mission CEO.

The poll also showed that proposing concrete actions to end homelessness has a positive impact on the likelihood that voters will support these candidates. “Most residents said that if a candidate for municipal council proposed concrete actions to end homelessness and build safe, affordable housing, they would be more likely (43%) or somewhat more likely (26%) to support these candidates,” added Nanos.

As a housing-focused shelter, The Mission strongly believes that housing is a human right. “Just like emergency wards in hospitals, emergency shelters have their place in the housing continuum. But a shelter is not a home. As a foundation for human dignity, all people should have access to safe, appropriate and affordable housing. We urge voters to become involved in this election by learning about homelessness in Ottawa and asking their candidates about what actions they propose to end it,” concluded Tilley.

The Ottawa Mission’s asks for the 2022 municipal election to #TakeActiongForHomelessness are available here:

About The Ottawa Mission
Since 1906, The Ottawa Mission has been serving the homeless, the hungry and the lost by providing food, clothing, shelter and skills. In 2020-2021, The Ottawa Mission provided emergency shelter to an average of 118 men every night and served an average of 2,570 meals every day. The Ottawa Mission also provides to men and women health services, mental health and addiction treatment programs, hospice care, dental services, housing services, educational support, job training, spiritual care, and clothing to thousands in need in our community. In September 2020, The Ottawa Mission marked the one millionth hour that the shelter has been in existence since its founding in 1906. In 2019, the Mission became a housing-focused shelter reflective of its commitment to a home for everyone as a human right with the launch of a new housing department.

Methodology: Nanos conducted an RDD dual frame (land- and cell-lines) random telephone survey of 819 residents of Ottawa, 18 years of age or older, between October 1st and 8th, 2022. Participants were randomly recruited by telephone using live agents and administered a survey. The sample is geographically stratified to be representative of Ottawa. Individuals were randomly called using random digit dialing with a maximum of five call backs. The margin of error for a random survey of 819 Ottawa residents is ±3.4 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. The research was commissioned by Ottawa Mission and was conducted by Nanos Research.

Aileen Leo
Director of Communications
T 613.234.1144 x 305
C 613.712.3092