Your Definitive Guide To Ottawa’s Subsidized Housing Programs

Your Definitive Guide To Ottawa’s Subsidized Housing Programs

While I wouldn’t call the process for getting subsidized housing in Ottawa complex, the steps and wait time can prove to be a bit intimidating. 

There are plenty of things to consider, such as the type of housing requirements that you fit and the qualifications to purchase a house in the first place. 

In this article, I’ll be tackling the whole process so you know what to expect if you plan on getting subsidized housing in Ottawa.

Qualifications for Subsidized Housing in Ottawa

Qualifications for Subsidized Housing in Ottawa

In order to qualify for subsidized housing in Ottawa, you will need to meet specific requirements. 

These include fitting into an age limit, being able to live independently, meeting a certain income and asset threshold, Canadian citizenship, and more. 

Here are the exact current requirements imposed by the Social Housing Registry of Ottawa (The Registry) for housing eligibility in Ottawa: 

  • At least one (1) person in your household is 16 years of age or older.
  • You are able to live independently and make your own arrangements for support services.
  • All members of your household are Canadian citizens, landed immigrants, or refugee or refugee claimants.
  • You or no other member of the household owes money to a social housing provider in Ontario or have an agreement to repay this money.
  • No members of your household are currently under a deportation, departure, or exclusion order to leave Canada.
  • Your income and assets are within the allowable limits.
  • No members of your household have been convicted of an offense in relation to rent-geared-to-income assistance. 

No one should also be found by a court of law or the Landlord and Tenant Board to have misrepresented their income for the purpose of obtaining housing assistance.

  • You agree to sell any house you own within 180 days of being housed through this process.

Housing Types

Housing Types

There are three housing types available to pick from Ottawa’s subsidized housing program. 

These are Rent-Geared-to-Income and Below Market Rent for low to moderate-income households with affordable rent, and Supportive Housing for people at risk of homelessness. 

For these buildings, you will have over 50 providers to choose from based on your preference. 

If you want to get help finding affordable property through The Registry, you can list the homes you like and describe your specific needs, such as the number of people in your family and any mobility issues.

There are different categories and places to find housing providers, from high-rise to low-rise, urban to country. 

Some are co-ops, which are distinct from other types of non-profit accommodation because the people who rent there are members who run the property themselves. In this building type, there isn’t an owner and anyone can join a co-op.

But they usually need to talk to applicants first to make sure they’ll be a good fit for the group.

A few of the housing choices on the application form are marked as smoke-free. Some have their own rules about things like pets, renter’s insurance, and satellite dishes, which are described during the offer process.

Rent-Geared-to-Income (RGI) Housing

Rent-Geared-to-Income (RGI) Housing

People most often get discounted housing through RGI. You pay about 30% of your household’s gross monthly income for RGI rent. 

There may be extra costs, like electricity and parking.

You can get paper applications for RGI properties at The Registry office and at a number of housing help agencies in and around Ottawa.


Co-ops are one type of housing available in RGI. Co-ops are different from other types of non-profit homes because the people who live there are members who also run the property. 

There is no owner. Anyone can join a co-op, but applicants are usually asked to come in for an interview to make sure they will fit in with the group.
People who live in a housing co-op usually have to help the property or renters in some way once a month as a volunteer.

Before your name is added to the list of people looking for subsidized co-op homes, your co-residents may choose to call you, ask you to fill out a more detailed form, or come in for an interview or information session. 

Most of them will check your credit and run references.

The following organizations provide RGI housing in Ottawa:  

ProviderWebsiteContact Number
Asher Christian Seniors
Barrhaven Non-Profit Housing
Better Living Co-operative
Cardinus Co-operative
Cartier Square Co-operative
Centretown Citizens Ottawa Corporation (C.C.O.C.)
Chinese Community Building
Communityworks Non-Profit Housing
Conservation Co-operative
Côté Est Co-operative
Cumberland Non-Profit Housing
Dalhousie Co-operative
Desloges Co-operative
Dobbin Co-operative
Eagleson Co-operative
Ellwood Non-Profit Housing
Emily Murphy Non-Profit Housing
Glenn Haddrell Co-operative
Gloucester Housing Corporation
Goulbourn Non-Profit Housing
Harmer House
Hazeldean Co-operative
Kanata Co-operative
Kanata Baptist Non-Profit Housing
Lao Village Co-operative
L.I.U.N.A Non-Profit Housing
Mario DeGiovanni Co-operative
Muslim Non-Profit Housing
Nepean Housing
Ottawa Community Housing (O.C.H.)
Osgoode Non-Profit Housing
Rideau Non-Profit Housing
St. Georges Co-operative
St. Vladimir’s Russian Residence
Serson Clarke Non-Profit Housing
Shefford Co-operative
Shikun Oz Non-Profit Housing
Taiga Non-Profit Housing
Tannenhof Co-operative
Van Lang Non-Profit Housing
Vanier Non-Profit Housing
Voisins Co-operative
Unity Housing (formerly OCISO Non-Profit Housing)
West Carleton Non-Profit Housing
Yule Manor Co-operative

Below Market Rent (BMR) Housing

Below Market Rent (BMR) Housing

If your household income is low to moderate, a BMR accommodation might be the right fit for you. It comes with the following benefits: 

  • The City of Ottawa funds the units.
  • You will pay a fixed rate of up to 80% of the average market rent. This figure isn’t tied to your household’s income.

If you choose to accept a BMR unit while also applying for rent-geared-to-income housing, you must contact The Registry to amend your address in your active RGI housing application.

You need to meet the qualifying standards to be eligible for BMR apartments. In addition, your household salary should fall within the City of Ottawa’s income restrictions. 

The income limits are as follows: 

  • 1-Bedroom: $50,000
  • 2-Bedroom: $60,000
  • 3-Bedroom: $72,000
  • 4-Bedroom or greater: $92,500

After you submit your application, The Registry will assist you in determining whether you fit this criteria. 

You are only eligible for three Below Market Rent home offers. If all offers are turned down, the case will be closed. 

If you are on a waiting list for RGI housing and accept a BMR apartment, you will not lose your spot. You will be able to get paper applications for BMR abodes are available at The Registry and numerous agencies in Ottawa.

The following organizations provide BMR properties in Ottawa: 

ProviderWebsiteContact Number
Blue Heron Coop
Bruyère Village
Centretown Citizens Ottawa Corporation (CCOC)
Clarence View 658-7368
Cumberland Non-Profit Housing
Eastern Ontario Christian Senior Citizens Housing Cooperative
Gloucester Housing Corporation
Hollyer House
King’s Daughters and Sons Apartments
McLean Coop
Multifaith Housing Initiative
Nepean Housing



Ottawa Community Housing (OCH)
The Perley and Rideau Veterans’ Health Centre Seniors’ Village
Unity Non-Profit Housing



Supportive Housing

Supportive Housing

Supportive housing is going to be your best option if you are having trouble living alone or taking care of your home. It has the following advantages:

  • On-site supports like counseling, crisis intervention, and help with keeping your housing.
  • Gives you better chances to gain support from other people and get involved in the community.
  • Reduces your isolation.
  • Lowers the number of people who end up in jail or on the streets when they only need a little help to maintain their housing conditions.

Individuals who need supportive living will pay about 30% of their gross monthly income each month for rent. There may be extra costs, like electricity and parking.

If you are selected to live in an assisted property unit, you must let The Registry know so that they can change your address on your RGI housing application. This will keep your petition up to date.

Depending on which supportive housing provider you select on your application, applying for this particular property type may necessitate additional steps: 

  • Special forms: Supportive housing providers may want additional information regarding your needs. These forms can be completed online or printed from The Registry’s office.
  • Interview: Supportive housing providers may want to talk about your specific needs.

The following organizations provide supportive housing in Ottawa: 

ProviderWebsiteContact Number
Bruce House
Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA)
Daybreak Housing
John Howard Society
Montfort Renaissance
Options Bytown
Ottawa Salus
Personal Choice Independent Living (PCIL)
Shepherds of Good Hope
Tewegan Transitional House
Youth Services Bureau

Application Steps

Application Steps

If you want to apply for housing in Ottawa, The Registry has set a few specific steps you need to accomplish before you get your own home. 

Specify Your Needs and Preferences

First, you’ll reach out to The Registry. Here’s where you have the opportunity to share your housing preferences. 

You can specify which buildings or neighborhoods you prefer, and it’s crucial to highlight any unique needs you have. 

Whether you have a larger family or require accessibility features, these details help The Registry get a clear picture of your housing requirements.

Undergo the Priority Assessment by the Registry

The next step is for The Registry to look over your entry and see if you meet any of the priority criteria. These goals are set based on things like being homeless or having a disability. 

They are meant to make sure that people who need homes the most quickly get it first. Once The Registry knows what your priority level is, they will put you on the right rental provider lists.

Receive the Unit Made Available to You

Now, when a housing unit becomes available, the housing provider responsible for that unit will refer to the list of applicants. 

They look for the best match based on various factors, including your priority status, household size, and any specific accessibility requirements you may have. 

The housing provider will then extend an offer to the applicant who is the most suitable match for the unit.

Update Your Applicant List Regularly

It’s vital to keep your application up to date. Life circumstances change, and The Registry encourages you to inform them of any changes in your situation. 

Whether your family grows or your accessibility needs change, these updates help housing providers make more accurate offers.

This step also helps to ensure that The Registry inputs the correct data which helps to prevent any complications in the future. 

New Rent-Geared-to-Income (RGI) Rules

New Rent-Geared-to-Income (RGI) Rules

The Province of Ontario introduced limits on how much you own and the amount of money you earn to qualify for subsidized housing. 

The City of Ottawa has asset limitations of $50,000 for single-person properties and $75,000 for homes with two or more people. 

This rule was implemented on July 1, 2023, and states that people with excess household assets or salary will no longer be eligible for RGI housing under the new regulations. 

This applies to persons on The Registry’s waiting list as well as households receiving RGI support.

The table below shows the full details of income restrictions.

Number of Bedroom(s)Household Income Limits (HIL)
4-Bedroom or greater$92,500

Assigned Priorities

Assigned Priorities

Assigned priorities come in four categories. Special and Local Priority Access Status for Urgent Safety is applicable for those being abused by a relative or partner. 

Life-Threatening Medical is for those with serious illnesses, and Homeless is for people living on the streets or in shelters. 

When applying for a house, it’s important to check if you are eligible for specific criteria that could grant you certain benefits. There are four categories that I will be discussing right now. 

If you do think you fall into any of these priorities, you should contact The Registry first before and/or submitting your application. 

One of its staff members will get in touch with you and provide more information and forms that you might need to sign. You may also be invited to a confidential interview to further discuss things regarding your current situation. 

Now, let’s take an in-depth look at the different priority categories. 

Special Priority

In order to get Special Priority status, you may need to show that you or someone in your home is being abused by a family member you have lived with in the last three months. 

This still applies even if you don’t live with that person anymore or plan to cut contact with the attacker for good. 

To help show that your safety is in danger, the Registry will need a notice or letter from one of the following groups:

  • Doctor
  • Lawyer
  • Law enforcement officer
  • Religious leader (e.g., priest, rabbi, imam)
  • Teacher
  • Guidance counselor
  • Community health worker
  • Social worker
  • Social service worker
  • Victim services worker
  • Settlement services worker
  • Shelter worker
  • Manager of your current social housing organization

Local Priority Access Status (LPAS) – Urgent Safety

Your application may qualify for Local Priority Access Status – Urgent Safety if you or someone in your household is being abused by a family member or a former partner who you have not lived with in the past three months. 

A request for an urgent safety petition may also be approved if moving to new housing will make you safe because your personal well-being or the security of someone in your home is under ongoing or extraordinary threat. 

To prove your personal welfare is jeopardized, The Registry will need a document or letter from one of the following sources:

  • Doctor
  • Lawyer
  • Law enforcement officer
  • Religious leader (e.g., priest, rabbi, imam)
  • Teacher
  • Guidance counselor
  • Community health worker
  • Social worker
  • Social service worker
  • Victim services worker
  • Settlement services worker
  • Shelter worker
  • Manager of your current social housing organization

When you get Local Priority Access Status – Urgent Safety, you will have to choose 30% of all the RGI homes in Ottawa that are right for your family during the first year of your wait. 

After a year, you will have to choose half of all the RGI housing that is offered.

Local Priority Access Status (LPAS) – Life-Threatening Medical

Suppose you or someone in your family has a terminal illness or a life-threatening medical condition that is made worse by where you live now. In that case, you may be eligible for Local Priority Access Status – Life-Threatening Medical. 

A licensed doctor will have to fill out a special form that asks them to explain how moving would help the life-threatening part of your situation.

There are 30% of RGI homes in Ottawa that are suitable for your family size that you have to choose from during the first year of your wait if you are given Local Priority Access Status – Life-Threatening Medical. 

After a year, you will have to choose half of all the RGI housing being offered.

Local Priority Access Status (LPAS) – Homeless

You may qualify to get Local Priority Access Status – Homeless if you live in an emergency shelter for the homeless or if you are living on the streets with no place to stay (like in cars, tents, or homemade shelters). 

Staying with family or friends for a short time does not count.

If you get Local Priority – Homeless, all housing sources will put you on their lists.

Selection Process for Housing

Selection Process for Housing

If a vacant rent-geared-to-income (RGI) unit comes up, the housing provider will give it to the application that best fits the unit.

Because of the law, you will need to follow the process set up by the Registry:

  • 1st selection: The first person on their list who has a Special Provincial Priority for abuse victims and people trafficked will be chosen.
  • 2nd selection: The first person on their list who has a Provincial Overhoused Priority.
  • 3rd selection: The first person on their list who has Local Priority Access Status.

If these types of applicants are not already on the list, the housing provider picks names in order of when the applications were sent in.

No more than one offer of RGI housing will be made to each applicant if:

  • Your file will be closed if you accept the offer from an RGI rental provider. Later, if you want to move to a different neighborhood, you will have to register through The Registry and give a new application date.
  • If you turn down an RGI housing provider’s offer, your file will be thrown out, and you will have to start the application process all over again until you get another offer. 

Any applications you have sent in for assisted housing or below-market rent (BMR) will not be affected by this.

When a Below-Market-Rent room gains a vacant slot, the provider gives it to the next applicant in line with the date they applied. There are no objectives.

Should an assisted housing unit open up, it is given to the next person whose needs are most like the ones that the accommodation can meet.


There’s no way for the Registry to know when units open up or when housing companies can make you an offer.

The Registry helps people who are applying, but it doesn’t run or give affordable housing. 

Its helpful staff can tell you about emergency shelters and short-term housing choices in the Ottawa area.

What to Expect after Applying For a Housing Program

What to Expect after Applying For a Housing Program

After you complete your application for a housing program in Ottawa, all you have to do is wait. The process can take quite some time, and The Registry will get in touch with you once a vacant spot opens. 

People who want to get subsidized homes may have to wait 5 or more years. A lot more people need a cheap place to live than there are places to go. 

While it’s a hard reality to accept, the truth is too few affordable homes are being built for the people who need them. And with housing prices going up, this complicates things further. 

A lot of the time, you might not have to wait as long if you are flexible about which places you want to see and what your specific needs are. You might be eligible for a preference that could help you get a place to live faster.

Although the wait can be a bit long, it’s completely up to The Reistry to sort things out. We have no other options for speeding up the process.

If you really are in urgent need of a place to stay, The Registry’s staff can tell you about emergency shelters and short-term housing choices in the Ottawa area.


In order to keep your application alive, you need to report to The Registry at least once a year, even if your information hasn’t changed.