More of Ottawa’s homeless population are sleeping on the streets and not in emergency shelters, according to new statistics from the city.

The city of Ottawa released the 2021 Enumeration of People Experiencing Homelessness report on Friday, providing officials with a better understanding of the scope and nature of homelessness in the community.

During a 24-hour period on Oct. 27 and 28, the city and 53 partner agencies conducted 1,340 surveys with individuals and families at 114 enumeration sites.

Nine per cent of people experiencing homelessness were staying on the streets in 2021, up from five per cent during the survey in 2018. The survey shows 55 per cent of people experiencing homelessness in Ottawa were staying in shelters, down from 67 per cent three years earlier.

The survey finds 73 per cent of respondents had stayed in an emergency shelter once in the past year.

According to the 2021 data, 13 per cent of people experiencing homelessness were staying in transitional housing, 11 per cent at someone else’s residence and two per cent in encampments.

More than half of the respondents told the city they had been homeless more than 180 days in the previous year.

The survey found 60 per cent of people experiencing homelessness in Ottawa were between the ages of 25 and 49 years old. Eleven per cent of residents identified as gay, lesbian, bi-sexual or other sexual orientation, according to the city.

Over half of the 1,340 residents to the survey were identified as racialized. Four per cent of Ottawa’s homeless population are former military or RCMP officers.

Ten per cent of respondents were accompanied by children.

The Ontario Ministry of Housing requires municipalities to conduct an enumeration of people experiencing homelessness every two years. The 2020 survey was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Participants answer a 10-minute survey about their demographics, health conditions, race, sexual orientation, language, reasons for homelessness, military service, and source of income.

“Ottawa’s 2021 PiT Count provided a snapshot of our population experiencing homelessness and serves as a means to measure our progress toward eliminating chronic homelessness by 2030,” said a memo from acting director of housing services Saide Sayah and Donna Gray, general manager of community and social services.

“This initiative is an important strategic exercise, which has generated results that will enhance our collective knowledge of the needs and realities of people experiencing homeless in our community. The information garnered will also serve us well for our future system planning activities.


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