Deputation at Community Services Committee
Budget 2024

Hear our Executive Director Kaite Burkholder Harris share long-term solutions to Ottawa's housing crisis at the Community Services Committee.

Tuesday, Nov 28th - Community Services Committee - Budget 2024

 Good Morning Chair and Members of the Committee,

Over the course of the past year, as the City faces the full impact of a housing crisis out of control, I want to start by pointing to actions that are working. In June, this Council approved an Integrated Transition to Housing Plan that City staff built with community partners. The result in the short term is an enhanced rent subsidy with greater flexibility, enabling people who have been stuck in homelessness to rapidly move out of the PDC’s. By allocating resources towards flexible subsidies like this, we enable people to secure stable housing.

Ending Homelessness Starts With Non-Profit Housing

By: Sophia Kelly-Langer

Take a moment to picture a person experiencing a housing crisis. What does it look like? For some, it looks like sitting out in the cold, hoping that the shelter is not full, so they can actually get in that night. For others, it looks like a family struggling to make the rent after a lay-off. It may look like a senior on a fixed income unable to downsize in their neighbourhood because there are no affordable options.


In the most extreme cases, a housing crisis looks like people living in encampments, some directly in front of Parliament Hill. These have become the only shelter options for some, including children and youth under bridges. The jarring contrast of the most vulnerable going without the basic need of housing just feet away from our country’s decision-makers is not lost on the people living in an encampment.

Increase Investment in Non-Profit Housing: Deputation to the Planning & Housing Committee, February 15th 2023

The fallout from the housing crisis means that as a city, we spend $30 million on emergency shelter costs every year. People experiencing homelessness engaging with police costs roughly $25M every year in Ottawa. We spend over $15 million a year on keeping people in hotels, because there is not enough affordable housing. Ending the housing crisis in our city means that we invest at least as much in solutions, as we do managing the crisis.

In order to make our city affordable, the smartest capital investment we can make is in non-profit housing.

How the City of Ottawa can boost non-profit housing now.


Three years ago, Ottawa’s council unanimously declared a housing and homelessness emergency. Since that time, the price of housing has risen to alarming levels. Rental prices have increased by 20 per cent from 2021 to 2022 alone. Fewer and fewer people can afford to live in this city, and far too many are on the edge of homelessness due to lack of affordability. It’s clear that we have yet to meaningfully respond to the root causes of this emergency.

A Chance #StartsWithHome


Housing is not a privilege to be earned, but rather a core building block of overall stability. Below standard housing, housing contingent on behaviour metrics, and shuffling humans through labyrinths of service referrals all aggravate the overdose epidemic. Put simply, we haven’t given our neighbours a chance. 

PRIDE Starts With Home


Pride has never been a single battle. The bricks thrown at Stonewall created a ripple effect of change that persists, and grows, and marches on year by year. But in many ways, complacency is among our greatest enemies. With the slow march of progress we’ve seen over the last decades, we may not see the challenges that continue to lead our young people to such a drastic over-representation in street-involved populations.

Youth #StartsWithHome


On August 12th, we celebrate International Youth Day in Canada. Since its inception by the UN General Assembly on August 12, 2000, International Youth Day has served to increase the quality and quantity of opportunities available to youth, so that they can actively participate in society. It’s also a day for local youth to raise awareness of the cultural and legal issues faced by youth in their area.

Here in Ottawa, organizations like Operation Come Home advocate for the basic rights of youth on a daily basis by supporting those who are experiencing homelessness, and facing discrimination, mental health issues, challenges with the justice system, and barriers to income, health and education. Below is an article written by a team member at Operation Come Home, speaking to how as a community we must respond to the needs of youth, so that they can flourish by feeling a sense of security, opportunity, and belonging. We need to start by housing our youth, because Youth #StartsWithHome.


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