2.C Settlement and Integration
C.2 What arrangements are made for housing?
(v) Are government housing supplements available to privately sponsored refugees?
How Canada Does It
Privately sponsored refugees cannot access government housing supplements for their first year in Canada, as their sponsors are responsible for covering their housing costs. If sponsored refugees are not yet self-sufficient once the sponsorship period ends (see 2.D.4), they may access provincial and municipal housing supplements or subsidies. The available supports depend on the province the refugees live in.
If refugees become financially independent they will be expected to cover the costs of their housing after the sponsorship period ends. If they are not yet self-sufficient at the end of the sponsorship undertaking, they may access provincial and municipal housing supplements or subsidies. Social housing is managed by local housing authorities. It is available for low-income Canadian families that do not have resources to obtain suitable housing. However, a challenge in Canada is availability of and access to these housing options for refugees who are not yet self-sufficient, the homeless, and other low-income individuals and families. There are long waitlists, and individuals often must resort to shelters as they wait.
Under social housing programs, the amount of rent a family pays depends on its level of income. This is known as rent-geared-to-income housing. If subsidies are not based on income levels, the additional support received is called a rent supplement. Social housing can be a townhouse, an apartment or a single room. In large urban centres, waitlists for social housing may be long, possibly up to ten years. Those on waitlists must live off of whatever income they bring in or income assistance they receive from the province; those who cannot afford housing may need to stay in shelters or hotels.
Other forms of social housing include:
- Co-op housing: A mix of units in a building that are rented at market-rate and subsidized units. Each co-op manages its own waiting lists;
- Non-profit housing: Rental housing built by a community group, religious group, or other non-profit organization whose ultimate goal is to provide housing to those in need, not to make a profit;
- Public housing: Housing that has been built by and is managed by the provincial government. These units are reserved for individuals who are most in need.
If sponsors fail to provide adequate financial assistance to their sponsored refugees during the undertaking period, refugees may be able to access government housing supplement (see 2.D.3(iii)).