The Ask Me campaign shares the stories behind the people that make up the homeless community in Ottawa. By learning about homelessness from the people closest to it – those experiencing homelessness, volunteers, and community workers – we can highlight what is working and what is needed in our efforts to end homelessness. This is where the conversation begins.

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Putting the Streets Behind Him: Mike Coe on his Experiences with Homelessness

“Staying at the shelter at night and living on the streets during the day was a disaster…” – Mike, 61 yrs. Mike wears a tie with a tie clip. His long-sleeved shirt always buttoned at the cuffs. His fingernails are trimmed. But, as Mike says, “you don’t have to look [...]

April 12th, 2016|Categories: Ask Me Ottawa|1 Comment

Cooking for a Cause: Operation Come Home’s Poor Chef’s Competition

By Hunza Chaudhary The afternoon of February 9 got off to a competitive start as four professional chefs got together for an amazing cause at 150 Gloucester Street, otherwise known as Operation Come Home (OCH). OCH is a support centre for homeless youth and its mission is to “prevent homeless youth from becoming homeless adults”. The centre’s ‘Reality Campaign’ includes a series of events over the course of a month to raise awareness about the over 1000 youth who experience homelessness each year in Ottawa. I spoke with Lynda Franc, one of the creators of the Poor Chef’s Competition and she told me about the effectiveness of the Reality Campaign. She states that the campaign has “been going on for almost 15 years and is a month-long campaign to raise awareness for youth homelessness in Ottawa.” The Poor Chef’s Competition brings together professional chefs who are tasked with creating a good meal within a $3.15 budget. This reflects the estimated money available each day for a young person, who is an Ontario Works recipient, to dedicate to food, after paying the rent and bills. The meals were scrutinized by a panel of judges including Catherine McKenney, the Councillor for Somerset Ward, Michael Maidment, the Executive Director of the Ottawa Food Bank, and Mike Bulthuis, the Executive Director of the Alliance to End Homelessness Ottawa. […]

February 24th, 2016|Categories: Ask Me Ottawa|0 Comments

Helping people where they’re at: Rooming House Outreach at Somerset West Community Health Centre

By Erin Dej I met Joanna on a balmy afternoon in July in the entry way of Somerset West Community Health Centre (SWCHC). Geared up with bottles of water, toiletries and pillows to give out we set off to visit four of Ottawa’s rooming houses. A rooming house by definition consists of individual rooms with five rooms for every one shared bathroom and sometimes a shared kitchen. Joanna has been a nurse practitioner with SWCHC for over ten years. Previous to this she worked in the shelter system, but recognized the greater health needs of rooming house tenants. Along with the Rooming House Outreach program, she provides medical care for those who use the walk-in clinic, seeing people as their primary provider if they find it difficult to keep appointments. Her passion for her work comes from her patients who are among those with the poorest health conditions in Ottawa. Joanna says that some of the people she meets in the rooming houses haven’t seen health care in many years so she does her best to “patch people up” and begin to build positive and trusting relationships to address longer-term health issues. […]

December 1st, 2015|Categories: Ask Me Ottawa|1 Comment