Annual Community Forum on Ending Homelessness


The Annual Community Forum on Ending Homelessness is the only event of its kind in Ottawa, bringing over 250 housing researchers, practitioners, front line workers, policy makers, community organizations and governments together to work collaboratively to build solutions to ending homelessness in Ottawa.

Our program provides an opportunity for local agencies to meet collectively and exchange learning, best-practices and strategies from a growing local and Canadian body of knowledge on ending homelessness, and will offer practical information, tools, research, discussion and much inspiration!

We are excited to announce the upcoming Community Forum is taking place:

Thursday January 24th, 2019 @ RA Centre – 2451 Riverside Drive, Ottawa, ON 

REGIStration Now OPEN!

Please visit our Eventbrite page to register today.


MEMBERS MEETING RESOURCES: 1. 10-Year Plan: EN | FR 2. Progress Report EN | FR


8:00am Registration Opens Light Refreshments

8:30am Opening Remarks by Mayor Jim Watson

8:45am Alliance Welcome (Plenary - Gymnasium)

9:00am Keynote

An Outcomes Oriented Approach to Leading Change on Ending Homelessness

Amanda DiFalco – Manager, Homelessness Policy and Programs, City of Hamilton

Introduction and remarks by Councillor Catherine McKenney – Council Liaison on Housing & Homelessness

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As the third largest city in Ontario, Hamilton faces social, environmental and political trends impacting homelessness. Yet in the last few years there has been significant progress in ending homelessness in Hamilton.

Amanda DiFalco will speak to the City of Hamilton Housing Services Division approach to systems integration and coordination of service delivery, the targeting of interventions and how local research and data are used to inform funding and decision making. Amanda will also discuss the ‘how to’ of some of the technical tools and change management practices used, while framing the talk within the broader context of systems planning, scaling change and building community and political will. 

As the homelessness sector faces a critical period characterized by uncertain funding, policy and political shifts, this keynote will address the opportunities available to Ottawa to reinforce the valuable work we do as a sector while raising awareness of new solutions, tools, resources and approaches to community planning and resource sharing that can help to support Ottawa’s homelessness outcomes moving forward. BIO: Amanda DiFalco


10:00am Break – Coffee & Tea


10:15am Concurrent Workshop Series #1

1. Ending Homelessness Through User Design & Community Planning (Courtside A Room)

 This interactive workshop will guide participants through a ‘User Design Thinking’ exercise. Using participant driven examples of the local challenges experienced by Ottawa’s homeless serving agencies, this workshop will inform the process through which communities can begin to identify concrete solutions to improving organizational capacity and ultimately, homelessness outcomes. 

Based on the national project Making Zero Count led by the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness (Homeless Hub) aimed at defining an end to homelessness (aka ‘Functional Zero’), this presentation will further profile the communities the project has supported across Canada along with the tools, partnerships and resources that have helped to make an impact on preventing and ending homelessness in these cities.

The final half of the session will share learnings based on a strategy used by the City of Hamilton Housing Services Division to test short term solutions-oriented projects, such as their Men’s Shelter Diversion Pilot, through a process called ‘Plan, Do, Study, Act’ (PDSA) that has fostered improved sector coordination and homelessness outcomes in Hamilton, and is being used by the City of Ottawa with local agencies involved in the 20,000 Homes Campaign.

Presenters & Facilitators:

Kaite Burkholder Harris, Community Planning Officer, Canadian Observatory on Homelessness

Amanda DiFalco, Manager, Homelessness Policy and Programs, City of Hamilton


2. From Research to Practice: National Guidelines Linking Homeless Populations to Primary Health Care (Plenary - Gymnasium)


This panel will feature work being done to develop national guidelines that address primary health care supports for homeless populations. Based on a large-scale national research project that included the input of persons with lived experience, the study looks at the stigma, barriers and limited access to basic health care supports for the homeless such as access to a family doctor, despite the acute health care needs experience by this population. Primary care researchers will present on current knowledge synthesis and mobilization strategies being used to improve physical, social and mental health outcomes aimed to assess the effectiveness of a broad range of interventions for homeless and vulnerably housed individuals.

The session will begin with an overview of the evidence-based guidelines and the role of primary care providers in linking homeless individuals with social services. Next, a review of the evidence on the role of permanent supportive housing models and effective ways to transition individuals into the community will be discussed. Finally, the role of public health in the implementation of the guidelines will be addressed, as well as that of youth advocates in impacting health systems change. 


Kevin Pottie (MD MClSc), Professor & Clinician-Investigator, Department of Family Medicine, Bruyère Research Institute, School of Epidemiology, Public Health & Preventive Medicine, University of Ottawa

Tim Aubry (PhD), Professor, School of Psychology & Senior Researcher, Centre for Research on Educational and Community Services, University of Ottawa

Olivia Magwood (MPH), Research Assistant, C.T. Lamont Primary Care Research Centre, Bruyère Research Institute

Ammar Saad, Research Assistant, C.T. Lamont Primary Care Research Centre, Bruyère Research Institute

Moderator: Wendy Muckle, Executive Director, Ottawa Inner City Health

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3. Mobilizing Effective Partnerships to Improve Tenant Landlord Relations (Outaouais Room) 


This panel will address the obstacles faced by marginalized populations when it comes to finding housing. Panelists will share perspectives around barriers and opportunities to support those seeking to access housing in the private market from the experience of agencies serving women with a criminal history, newcomers, and homeless populations. It will also bring legal perspectives in residential landlord and tenant law with respect to the impact on both tenants and landlords, as well as to policy and research perspectives addressing ‘crime free housing’.

The conversation is aimed at encouraging meaningful discussions around local advocacy and public education efforts addressing access to safe, secure and affordable housing for homeless and marginalized populations. It will further contribute to increasing awareness around these complex issues with a focus on how local collaboration can potentially help to reduce discrimination and enhance a Human Rights based approach to securing and maintaining affordable and appropriate housing for all.


Michael Thiele, Partner, Quinn, Thiele, Mineault, Grodzki LLP

Mariom Ferrer, Housing Locator, The Salvation Army

SamanthaMcAleese, PhD Candidate, Sociology, Carleton University

Anita Desai, Executive Director, St. Leonard’s Society of Canada

Amanda MacDonald, Acting Manager of Residential Services (JF Norwood House), Elizabeth Fry Society of Ottawa

Adrienne Vicente, LGBTQ Newcomer Health Worker, Centretown Community Health Centre

Moderator: Marie-Josée Houle, Executive Director, Action-Logement


4. YOUTH STREAM: Peer Design Lab: Creating, Managing & Supporting Spaces for Young Adult Experts & Peers (Courtside B Room)


The benefits of hiring people with lived expertise of youth homelessness are well recognized. However, establishing a position, recruiting individuals, and ensuring successful employment are purposeful and strategic endeavours can be a challenge. In this interactive simulation, we will learn from stakeholders and young adult experts about maintaining equitable, meaningful, and engaging workspaces for young adult peers. Together participants will have the opportunity to engage with stakeholders at all levels within and outside your organization to exchange creative knowledge and solutions towards the inclusion of young adult experts.

 Presenter & Facilitator: 

 Mardi Daley, Peer Specialist, Housing Outreach Project-Collaborative/LOFT Community Services 


Lunch – Pasta Buffet

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Lunch Hour Table Talks 



1:00pm Concurrent Workshop Series #2


1. Supply and Demand: The Role of Affordable Housing Development in Ending Homelessness (Outaouais Room) 


Ottawa’s shelter system is over capacity. An adequate supply of affordable housing is a prerequisite to truly ending homelessness in the long term. This panel will gather key stakeholders from the public, private and non-profit sectors to talk about how partnerships, policy and planning might be leveraged to develop more affordable housing in Ottawa. 

Questions will be raised around how to speed and scale the development of affordable housing in a tight housing market. It will also look at the role of developers, the City and non-profits along with that of the homeless serving sector in addressing individual and community needsto get more affordable housing built. The panel will further consider opportunities around local LRT and transit-oriented development, Inclusionary Zoning and mixed income community planning and more. Join this conversation aimed at advancing Ottawa’s affordable housing agenda and learn about what is unfolding on the ground. 


Steve Pomeroy,Founder, Focus Consulting & Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Urban Research & Education (CURE), Carleton University 

Robert McNeil, Senior Manager of Realty Initiatives, Ottawa Community Housing

Rodney Wilts, JD, LEED AP, Partner, Theia Partners

Moderator: Jason Burggraaf, Executive Director, Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association

2. Building an Inclusive Peer Support Program to Fit Your Organization (Plenary - Gymnasium)

In recent years the role of peers and people with lived experience in the homelessness, health and social service system has increased. Although the concept of engaging peers is not new, there is still important considerations around the expectations and goals of engagement at the levels of policy, programming, operations and workforce best-practices. 

This session will focus on the inclusion of peers in paid staff roles across a variety of program models in Ottawa. The conversation will include a discussion around how organizations can prepare to support peers, orient staff and manage the recruitment and hiring process. It will also address the need for consistent standards and values around the role of peers in taking on paid staff roles and will share the perspectives of staff with lived experience on the opportunities and challenges. 


Claude Lurette, Housing Support Worker Peer Specialist, Options Bytown Non‐Profit Housing

Lisa Medd, Housing Program Manager, Canadian Mental Health Association Ottawa

Lars Cloot, Peer Support Worker, Canadian Mental Health Association Ottawa

Tyrone Gamble, Peer Support Worker, Canadian Mental Health Association Ottawa

Anne Marie Hopkins, Supervisor Peer Outreach Program, Ottawa Inner City Health

Catherine Hacksel, Peer Outreach Worker, Ottawa Inner City Health

Moderator: Catharine Vandelinde, Executive Director, Options Bytown Non‐Profit Housing

3. By the Numbers: Understanding Homelessness in Ottawa Through Data (Courtside A Room)

More and more communities are now using data to coordinate homelessness services and to inform program planning, funding and decision making. Strong local data on homelessness can help to better understand the impact of efforts to reduce homelessness and to identify emerging challenges. In Ottawa, homelessness trends are primarily informed by shelter data and coordinated Point-in-Time (PiT) Counts. An ongoing challenge then locally is the limitation of data focused on shelter use versus systems level data, such as data related to homelessness entry and exit pathways across agencies and systems. 

 In this session, participants will learn about the most recently available local data gathered by the Housing Services Branch April 2018 PiT Count and the Spring 2018 Alliance Systems Mapping initiative. Further discussion will engage participants in a broader conversation around how bridging data gaps might further support and identify local planning needs and play a role in shelter diversion and homelessness prevention.


Paul Lavigne, Program Manager, Homelessness Programs & Residential Services Branch, Housing Services, City of Ottawa

Catherine Latham, Program Coordinator, Homelessness Programs & Residential Services Branch, Housing Services, City of Ottawa

Tina Slauenwhite, Housing First Director, Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health

Kristen Holinsky, Executive Director, Alliance to End Homelessness Ottawa

Moderator: Doug Pawson, Director, Social Business & Social Finance, Causeway Work Centre


4. YOUTH STREAM: Making the Shift: Preventing Youth Homelessness in Ottawa (Courtside B Room)


Communities across Canada are beginning to make the shift to youth homelessness prevention. One barrier to change is the absence of a shared language concerning what youth homelessness prevention is and what it is not. To guide how policymakers and practitioners think and talk about prevention, the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness (COH) recently released the Roadmap for the Prevention of Youth Homelessness Report. 

Building upon the COH’s framework, this panel will unpack what youth homelessness prevention is and why it is important. Panelists will discuss work being done in Ottawa to respond proactively to youth homelessness by providing young people with immediate access to housing and supports. The panel will also address barriers and opportunities for making the shift to preventive responses to youth homelessness moving forward. 


Terrilee Kelford, Executive Director, Kelford Youth Services Inc.

Mandy Faulkner,  Project Administrator, Making the Shift: Housing First for Youth, Youth Services Bureau of Ottawa

Larissa Silver, Director of Community Services, Youth Services Bureau of Ottawa

James Thiebault, Project Manager, Equity in Education, Pathways to Education 

Moderator: Dr. Jacqueline Kennelly, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Carleton University

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2:15pm Break – Snack, Coffee & Tea


2:30pm Plenary Panel

Advocacy as Storytelling Through Documentary Filmmaking: Ottawa’s Odyssey (Plenary - Gymnasium)

This panel will examine the use of documentary filmmaking as a potentially powerful tool for social change. It will showcase two recent local documentaries includingHousing & Homelessness Community Project (Ottawa Aboriginal Coalition) and Falling Through the Cracks (Ottawa Inner City Health). In conversation with local filmmakers, activists, community partners and those who took part in the films, this panel will address how advocacy as storytelling through documentary filmmaking can influence public policy debates and support local efforts around homelessness and affordable housing. 


Elena Abel –Community Developer & Adam Langlois, Fimmaker, Extremeline Productions & Pam Taylor– Project Participant ‘Housing & Homelessness Community Project’ (Ottawa Aboriginal Coalition)

Danielle Rolfe & Ed Kucerak– Directors & Writers & Bob Jamison– Peer Support Worker, Somerset West Community Health Centre ‘Falling Through the Cracks’ (Ottawa Inner City Health)

Moderator: Joanna Binch (RN) EC, Nurse Practitioner, Oasis Sandy Hill Community Health Centre

Featured Documentaries


Premiered at the OAC Community Forum in 2017, the Housing & Homelessness Community Projectwas developed as a resource to increase awareness of the complexity of housing and homelessness for urban Indigenous people.

Working directly with Indigenous people with lived experience who were referred to the project through their Housing First Case Manager, the short doc visited each community member in their home, allowing each to share their personal story in their own way. Despite profound loss and difficulties, each story contains examples of resiliency, hope and a desire to give back.

Learn more.


Falling Through the Cracksis a short doc first presented at the 2018 Hospice Palliative Care Ontario Conference in April 2018. It tells the story of individuals living in rooming houses in Ottawa and in need of palliative care. Marginalized and isolated, these individuals fall in the gap between stable housing and shelters where palliative care can be most readily be accessed. The film highlights challenges and opportunities to improve access to palliative care from the point of view of people with lived experience and health care providers. 

Learn more.


3:30pm Members Meeting & Youth Stream

MEMBERS MEETING: Creating a City Where Everyone Has a Place to Call Home: Mid-Point Refresh of the 10-Year Housing and Homelessness Plan (Plenary - Gymnasium)

Hosted by the City of Ottawa Housing Services Branch

This session will provide an update on the refresh process and an opportunity for attendees to provide feedback on Ottawa’s current 10-Year Plan.


YOUTH STREAM: Building Bridges Report Launch: Perspectives on Youth Homelessness From First Nations, Inuit and Metis, Newcomer, and LGBTQ2S+ Youth in Ottawa (Courtside B Room)

Sponsored By:

The goal of AWHO is to build a stronger system of supports for homeless youth in the National Capital Region, and ultimately to end youth homelessness in the area. To this end AWHO has undertaken research on the perspectives of young people and service providers for improving supports in the city. One substantial gap in the initial round of research was the perspective of youth who are overrepresented in Ottawa’s homeless population yet are often harder to reach for research purposes. These include Indigenous youth, Inuit youth, LGBTQ youth, and newcomer youth. 

To address this gap, four research liaisons were hired to conduct peer to peer research with young people in Ottawa-Gatineau from these impacted communities. In this interactive session co-presenters will review the recommendations from the Building Bridges: Perspectives on Youth Homelessness fromFirst Nations, Inuit and Metis, Newcomer, and LGBTQ2S+ Youth in Ottawa, and The Opportunity Project: Telling a New Story About Youth Homelessness in Ottawareports. In small groups, participants will strategize actions they can take to move these recommendations from talk to change.

Presenters & Facilitators: 

Charlotte Smith, Peer Researcher; Corinne Suave, Youth Liaison, AWHO; Tiffany Rose, Peer Researcher; Stu Pitts Atkins, Peer; Holly Petersen, Peer; Kesha Mukobelwakesha, Youth Liaison, AWHO 

5:00pm Closing Remarks


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