April 03, 2023

Funding Our Way Out of Homelessness: The Impact of Municipal, Provincial, and Federal Funding on Housing and Homelessness

At The Ottawa Mission, we see firsthand the devastating impact that homelessness and the lack of affordable and supportive housing has on individuals in our community.

The issue of homelessness is a complex one that requires a coordinated approach, practical and systematic, from all levels of government to address it. Each level of government has its own areas of responsibility in addressing the problem, and funding plays a critical role in addressing the state of housing and homelessness in our communities.

Let’s take a closer look at how each level of government affects our work here at the shelter.

Municipal funding

Municipal governments have a key role to play in providing essential services that directly affect the homeless population in their communities. This includes:

  • Funding emergency shelters;
  • Providing affordable housing options;
  • Implementing homelessness prevention programs;
  • Regulating the housing market through zoning and building codes, which can impact the availability and affordability of housing.

In short, municipal funding supports the immediate needs of those experiencing homelessness and helps to create an environment that fosters affordable and accessible housing.

Provincial funding

Provincial governments have a broader responsibility when it comes to addressing homelessness. They are responsible for:

  • Funding a range of frontline services that support those who are homeless, including rent supplements and housing allowances;
  • Funding mental health and addiction services, employment and education programs, and other wraparound supports, which are often critical to helping individuals transition out of homelessness;
  • Coordinating the efforts of municipalities and non-profit organizations to implement a cohesive and effective strategy for addressing homelessness across the province.
  • Supports a common vision, key principles and a coordinated approach to achieving improved housing outcomes.

Federal funding

The federal government plays a critical role in shaping the overall direction of homelessness policy in Canada. It provides:

  • Affordable housing initiatives funding;
  • Homelessness prevention programs funding;
  • Funding for other services that support the homeless population;
  • Setting goals for the provision of affordable housing and housing loss prevention;
  • Support for the research and data collection that informs housing and homelessness policy decisions

How it all affects us

Although homelessness has always existed, it has now reached epidemic levels in Ottawa and across Canada because government support at all levels has not kept up with the need for affordable and supportive housing. When there is adequate funding for affordable housing initiatives and homelessness prevention programs, we see fewer people coming through our doors. Additionally, when there is funding for mental health and addiction services, we see individuals who are better equipped to transition out of homelessness and into stable housing.

When funding for affordable housing initiatives and homelessness prevention programs is stagnant or cut, we see an increase in the number of people who are experiencing homelessness. Similarly, when mental health and addiction services are not adequately funded, we see individuals who are struggle to get the help they need to transition out of homelessness.

Each level of government has a distinct role to play in addressing homelessness, and adequate funding from each level is critical to supporting the needs of those who are homeless in our community. It is only through collaboration and support from all levels of government that we can hope to end homelessness in Canada. As one of the city’s busiest emergency shelters, The Ottawa Mission urges all levels of government to prioritize funding for these critical programs to help end homelessness in our communities.