Youth homelessness in Ottawa requires emergency response

OTTAWA, October 27, 2023— The Youth Services Bureau (YSB) of Ottawa commends the creation of the Emergency Shelter Crisis Taskforce, announced yesterday by Mayor Mark Sutcliffe and Community Services Committee Chair Laura Dudas. The intention to deliver concrete action to address Ottawa’s desperate shortage of emergency shelter beds is necessary and urgent.

“At YSB we house dozens of youth every night in our emergency and transitional beds,” said Darren Graham, Director of YSB’s Community Services. “Our shelters regularly run over capacity. Sadly, there are so many more youth who are living in dangerous, tenuous situations. Winter is coming, and in Ottawa, housing quickly becomes a matter of life and death.”

YSB welcomes the opportunity to help address this crisis. Receiving resources that reflect the current need will allow us to house more of Ottawa’s vulnerable youth in supportive housing and can ensure a stable and safe future for youth in our community. Young people who are experiencing homelessness do not have the same needs as adults; they require specific and different services and they can not be safely housed in the adult system.

Each year, there are about 1400 vulnerable youth who are homeless in Ottawa. YSB supports these vulnerable  young people through services including its Downtown Drop-In Centre, its two emergency shelters and four long-term housing locations, as well as mental health and employment support. With appropriate support, Ottawa’s youth experiencing homelessness have the increased chance to avoid lifelong homelessness.

About the Youth Services Bureau of Ottawa

YSB is one of the largest and most comprehensive non-profit agencies serving youth in Ottawa. It offers more than 30 programs and serves 3,500 youth and families every month in the areas of youth engagement, housing and homelessness, mental health, youth justice, and employment.


For more information or to arrange an interview:

Suzanne Fraser

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