2.C Settlement and Integration
C.2 What arrangements are made for housing?
(ix) What type of housing is appropriate for refugees?
How Canada Does It
When refugees first arrive in Canada, sponsoring groups must ensure they are provided with appropriate temporary accommodation. This may include a community member/sponsor’s home or a temporary rental unit. Sponsors should ensure that refugees receive a welcome package, which may contain picture bios and a phone directly of sponsoring group members, bus map and pass, calling cards, bilingual dictionary, basic medication, and toiletries. Temporary accommodation must provide adequate space for the number of occupants, and should have access to telephone and internet services so that refugees can communicate with their loved ones abroad. Sponsors should ensure that ethnically appropriate food is available in the temporary accommodation to help the refugees feel at home.
Sponsors should research housing options prior to the refugees’ arrival, but should not secure permanent housing until after refugees arrive. Refugees’ arrival may be delayed due to unforeseen circumstances, e.g., obtaining an exit visa in the host country. Refugees should also have the opportunity to choose their own housing out of a range of options that fall within their budget. Appropriate permanent housing can include apartments or home rentals. It is important to ensure that housing has adequate space for the number of occupants, and is in a safe and secure location, close to employment opportunities, public transit, services, and sponsoring group members.
Sponsors must work with refugees to manage their expectations regarding appropriate housing in Canada. For example, some refugees may enter Canada with the expectation of living in a house, but find that a small apartment is more appropriate owing to budgetary constraints. Some sponsors may choose to increase their financial assistance towards sponsored refugees’ housing, but sponsors and refugees should work together to find a housing option that refugees will be able to afford once the sponsorship undertaking period ends.
Additionally, it is important to consider whether permanent housing is situated near others from a similar ethno cultural background and appropriate supports such as medical facilities, trauma counselling, and settlement services such as language training. Proximity to these services and networks is more important than being close to sponsors. Sponsors are normally much more mobile than refugees and generally live in neighborhoods that refugees may not be able to afford after the first year.