As a result of the Lower Mainland’s inflated housing market, refugee claimants have a difficult time finding somewhere to live. When they arrive they usually have very limited financial resources and cannot rely on income assistance straight away. As a result, many claimants experience housing stress within the first six months of arrival.
With luck, refugee claimants usually find immediate housing through friends and family, or through assistance organizations; but many of them, including women, are inevitably housed inappropriately in shelters until something more suitable is available.
The Housing Working Group at MAP exists to focus advocacy based on research about the issues relating to housing refugee claimants, from temporary and transition housing and pathways to permanent housing.
MAY 2018: MAP, along with member agencies held: A Forum Focused on Solutions: Addressing the Shelter and Housing Needs of Refugee Claimants in BC where 60+ participants from 42 agencies shared their creativity and wisdom.
The resulting report provided insight into the issues facing refugee claimants and housing, as well as urgent recommendations:
As a consequence of the Forum and Report the MAP Housing Working Group received financial support from the former Ministry of Jobs Trade and Technology (Now the Ministry of Municipal Affairs) in September 2018 to undergo professional research and data gathering into refugee claimant housing and gaps in the referral system and housing provision.
The resultant report: TOWARDS A HOUSING SOLUTION FOR REFUGEE CLAIMANTS IN BC: A Plan for Action published in March 2019, further emphasized the need for improvements in the referral process and in the provision of emergency and transition housing for refugee claimants. Recommendations were also made to provide more education opportunities and data-informed discussions with municipalities, policy decision-makers at all government levels, potential landlords, and other partners.
In response in the Fall of 2019 the BC Government financed MAP to create a collaborative project with a lead agency to build a referral system and collect data in the area of housing provision to refugee claimants. The project, titled Refugee Claimant Housing Referral and Data Management System (renamed BC CHARMS) was launched in the early spring of 2020 with MOSAIC as lead agency and will complete in March 2023.
The main goals of the project are:
- Support and extend the collaborative capacity of service providers working to address the housing needs of refugee claimants.
- Enhance the housing supply for refugee claimants. Housing and service gaps for single males, families, people with disabilities and individuals from the LBGTQIA+ community will be addressed.
- An efficient and effective data management and referral system to appropriate housing and services (including emergency housing, transition housing or more stable affordable housing).