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Health and Housing in West-Central Ottawa: The Facts on Rooming Houses

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Ottawa, November 29, 2016 – A new report by Somerset West Community Health Centre and Centretown Community Health Centre shows that rooming houses in Ottawa often fail to meet minimum standards for safety, affordability and maintenance.

As Community Health Centres, we believe everyone in Ottawa deserves safe, affordable housing. Rooming houses are a necessary form of housing, but these conditions represent a potentially harmful environment for tenants who are already marginalized.

Common issues reported by tenants include broken windows, exposed pipes and electrical, broken floorboards, mould, unsanitary common areas — including bathrooms and kitchens — broken locks, no heating for long periods in the winter, bed bugs and cockroaches.

Tenants also report that they have experienced illegal evictions, harassment, interference with mail and refusal to complete repairs from the landlord.

The current research shows that many rooming house tenants are bound by a housing situation that does not consider their well-being, economic situation or safety. Not only are they precariously housed, they are also dealing with challenges with their mental and physical health, addictions and accessibility to services.

The report calls upon the City of Ottawa, landlords and the Government of Ontario to take immediate action to improve living conditions in rooming houses.

  1. City of Ottawa: Ensure that all rooming houses in Ottawa comply with standards as set out in the Residential Tenancies Act.
  2. Landlords: Treat tenants with respect and professionalism and abide by the Residential Tenancy Act, which applies to rooming houses, in order to meet property standards and ensure regular maintenance.
  3. Government of Ontario: Provide rent-supplement programs to close the gap between Ontario Works rates and the cost of rental housing as well as grants for the purpose of physical improvement, ensuring access to reasonably spacious and clean rooms, safe and functional shared spaces, and regular maintenance.

To read the full report, click here.


  • Simone Thibault, Executive Director, Centretown Community Health Centre
  • Joanna Binch, Nurse Practitioner and Rooming House Outreach, Somerset West Community Health Centre
  • Mike Bulthuis, Executive Director, Alliance to End Homelessness Ottawa
  • Catherine McKenney, City Councillor for Somerset Ward


The Somerset West Community Health Centre and the Centretown Community Health Centre are local non-profit, community-governed organizations that provide health and social services to the residents of Centretown and the Somerset Ward. We believe every one matters and everyone should have the opportunity to access the resources they need to be healthy. 

To schedule an interview, please contact:
Valérie Levert-Gagnon
Communications Officer, Centretown Community Health Centre
613-233-4443, ext. 2496

Tess Frémont-Côté
Communications Officer, Somerset West Community Health Centre
613-238-8210, ext. 2267