Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How can I get help with my application?
Our website (HousingRegistryOttawa.ca) offers all the forms and guidance you need to apply for subsidized housing in Ottawa.
For general queries, use this contact form.
For help from our caring team to fill out or update your application, call 613-526-2088 for assistance or to make an in-person appointment.
We are open Monday-Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Our office is on the 5th floor at 2197 Riverside Drive, Ottawa (near Billings Bridge) on the unceded territory of the Anishinabe Algonquin peoples
Why can’t you just get me a place to live?
The Registry does not operate or offer affordable housing.
Are all applicants approved?
Everyone who meets the eligibility requirements is approved.
How much is rent?
If you apply for rent-geared-to-income or supportive housing, your rent will be approximately 30% of the household’s gross monthly income. There may be additional costs such as utilities and parking.
If you apply for below market rent housing, you will pay up to 80% of the average market rent at a fixed rate – this is not tied your household’s income.
How long does it take to get a home?
It can take 5+ years for applicants to get subsidized housing. Far more people need an affordable place to live than there are available options. The supply of subsidized housing simply is not keeping up with the number of people who need it.
The time you wait may be shorter if you are flexible about which buildings you prefer and your unique needs.
You might qualify for a priority that could get you housing sooner: see Assigned Priorities for details.
How can I get housed faster?
Other than being flexible about which buildings you prefer and your unique needs and checking if you are eligible for any of the Assigned Priorities, there is nothing you or anyone else can do to make an offer come faster.
Is there anything I have to do while I wait?
You need to contact The Registry as soon as anything in your situation changes, such as your phone number, address, family size, or accessibility needs. Even if nothing has changed in your details, we need to hear from you at least once a year– just to keep your application active.
If it could take years to get a home, where am I supposed to live in the meantime?
Since the list of people awaiting subsidized housing in Ottawa is very long (far more people need an affordable place to live than there are available options), we encourage applicants to make other arrangements in the meantime.
Our caring team can provide you with information on emergency shelters and short-term housing options in the Ottawa area.
See Other Housing Supports (NEED LINK) for links to local services.
You can also contact the City of Ottawa for information.
What kind of housing is available to applicants?
Around 50 housing providers in the Ottawa area have rent-geared-to-income housing, below market rent housing, and supportive housing. When you apply for subsidized housing through The Registry, you get to select the buildings you prefer and that meet your unique needs (like family size and accessibility requirements).
What if I have physical accessibility needs?
Your application must include a separate form for Modified/Accessible Units (NEED LINK) that must be completed by a physician. Our caring team is available to help with that form and updating your previous selections if your physical needs have changed since applying.
Who decides which applicants get a home?
Local housing providers. Here’s how it works:
Step #1: applicants specify which buildings they prefer and their unique needs (like family size and accessibility requirements)
Step #2: The Registry assesses for any priorities and places the applicants on the relevant housing provider lists (see Assigned Priorities for details)
Step #3: when a unit becomes available, the housing provider offers it to the application that best matches the unit (based on legislated rules (NEED LINK))
Step #4: as applicants update their needs, we update the lists
Visit The Process for full details.
How will I be contacted with an offer?
You will be contacted by telephone, email, and/or postal mail by the housing provider. Please make sure The Registry has your most current contact information on file.
What if I don’t like the housing offered to me?
You are only entitled to one (1) offer of housing. If you decline all offers, your file will be cancelled.
What if I get offered Below Market Rent or supportive housing but what I really want is rent-geared-to-income housing?
If you are offered and choose to accept a Below Market Rent (BMR) or supportive housing unit, your application for rent-geared-to-income (RGI) housing will remain active.
What are “assigned priorities”?
If your safety or health are at risk, or if you are experiencing homelessness, you may be prioritized on the List (see Assigned Priorities for details)
Do housing providers have rules to follow when they choose an applicant to offer a home?
Yes. They have to follow rules for making the housing offer. For example, they have to make the offer to people at the top of the list with assigned priorities. If those applicants decline, then the housing provider must go to the general chronological list of applicants. Once a housing offer is accepted, they notify The Registry so that we can update the lists.
How many rent-geared-to-income housing offers will I get?
If you accept an offer from a rent-geared-to-income housing provider, your file will be closed. If you later wish to move to another community, you must reapply through The Registry with a new application date.
If you decline an offer from a rent-geared-to-income housing provider, your file will be cancelled and you will have to reapply with a new application date to await another offer. This would not affect any applications you have submitted for below market rent or supportive housing.
If I currently owe money to a social housing provider, can I still apply?
If you or anyone in your household owes money to a social housing provider, you must settle that account or set up a repayment agreement with them. Once we receive confirmation of that, we can add you to the list of people awaiting subsidized housing through The Registry.
I am a market rent tenant with a social housing provider who recently had a drop in income: can I receive a subsidy for my current unit?
Contact your social housing provider directly to discuss your situation. They have the forms you need to complete if you qualify, like if you’ve lived with your social housing provider for at least one year.
How do I apply for a market rent unit?
To apply for a market rent unit, please contact the housing provider directly. The Registry does not facilitate applications for those units.
How do I apply to a different municipality?
When the Province of Ontario legally mandated all municipalities to maintain a centralized list of people awaiting subsidized housing, The Registry already existed. So the City of Ottawa decided to let us keep playing this role. We have a Service Agreement with the City that includes provisions on funding. While we have a lot of autonomy, we do have to check with the City before making any significant changes, like procedures that affect how we serve applicants. In other words, the City has legal authority and control over the List but delegates and funds The Registry to manage it.
(The Registry began operating in 1997, eventually serving as a model to other municipalities across Ontario and Canada.)
Why are so many people awaiting subsidized housing?
Far more people need an affordable place to live than there are available options. Too many people face a combination of rising housing costs, stagnating incomes or income insecurity, and budgeting challenges. The increasing cost of home ownership means more and more people in Ottawa and across Canada are renting. Rents are going up everywhere.
The supply of subsidized housing is not keeping up with [JS1] the number of people who need it.
See The Challenge for more on the housing crisis and what you can you do.
What is subsidized housing?
Subsidized housing exists for people for whom regular rents or a mortgage are out of reach.
Subsidized housing means you pay rent based on what you can afford, not on the size or type of housing you live in.
When rent is based on your income, that’s called rent-geared-to-income housing – usually about 30% of your monthly income. The balance is covered by the government or a private organization. This is called a subsidy.
Subsidized housing can be a single room, an apartment with 1 or more bedrooms, a townhouse, rooming houses, and options for folks with accessibility needs like wheelchair access. All kinds of people live in subsidized housing – individuals, couples, and families with children.
Can The Registry staff tell me when I will be housed?
No. We have no way of knowing when units become available or when housing providers are able to make you an offer.
I am in crisis right now and desperate for a place to stay- can you help?
While The Registry supports applicants, it does not operate or offer affordable housing itself.
Our caring team can provide you with information on emergency shelters and short-term housing options in the Ottawa area. Contact us today.
See Related Supports for links to local services.