As a result of Vancouver and the Lower Mainland’s housing market, refugee claimants have a difficult time finding somewhere to live. When they arrive they usually have very limited financial resources, can’t rely on income assistance straight away and so many of them experience housing stress within the first six months of arrival.

Typically, refugee claimants find immediate housing through friends and family, or through assistance organizations.

Fleeing their home countries and having endured psychological trauma, loss, extreme fatigue and fear for their personal safety, refugee claimants are in need of permanent and secure housing. Currently, there is a lack of all types of housing dedicated to refugee claimants: from short term shelter to transitional housing and permanent affordable housing for individuals and families in BC.

That’s why we have a Housing Working Group at MAP that concentrates on all the issues relating to housing refugee claimants, from temporary and transition housing and pathways to permanent housing.

Established in 2009, the Housing Working Group (HWG) of the Multi Agency Partnership (MAP) promotes the safety and well-being of refugee claimants by finding and creating housing solutions along the continuum of need for them.

Refugee Claimant Housing Forum Report and Action Plan

MAP, along with member agencies held: A Forum Focused on Solutions:  Addressing the Shelter and Housing Needs of Refugee Claimants in BC 10 May 2018 where 60+ participants from 42 agencies shared their creativity and wisdom.

You can read the resulting report which gives great insight into some of the issues facing refugee claimants and housing, by clicking below.

Refugee Claimant Housing Forum Report and Action Plan

Further MAP projects to enhance refugee claimant housing

As a consequence of the Forum and report the MAP Housing Working Group entered into discussions with the Ministry of Jobs, Economic Development and Competitiveness (formerly MJTT) and was awarded funds in September 2018 to undergo professional research into:

  1. How refugee claimants find housing when they first arrive and during their newcomer years.
  2. Data to describe the number of claimants searching for housing, their locale, the type of housing they succeed in finding (or not)
  3. Gaps in the referral system and the provision of appropriate housing from first arrival to long term residence.

The report and recommendations published in March 2019 further emphasized the need for improvements in the referral process and in the provision of emergency (refugee specific shelter accommodation) 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 the fall of 2019 MJEDC provided an opportunity to MAP to create a collaborative project with a lead agency to address the referral and data deficiencies in housing provision to refugee claimants. The project, titled Refugee Claimant Housing Referral and Data Management System was launched in the early spring of 2020 with MOSAIC as lead agency and will complete in March 2022.

The main goals of the project are:

  • The collaborative capacity of service providers who are working to address the housing needs of refugee claimants is strengthened and expanded.
  • The housing supply for refugee claimants will be enhanced. Housing and service gaps for single males, families, people with disabilities and individuals from the LBGTQIA+ community will be addressed.
  • Refugee claimants will benefit from efficient and effective referrals to appropriate housing and services (including emergency shelter, transition housing or more stable affordable housing).

To that end MOSAIC and MAP have created a communication and decision-making system that will be greatly assisted by the Advisory Committee that meets monthly and the continued support and experience of MJEDC.

Watch for updates to this exciting project!


Housing News Clippings

Articles from across Canada and around the world about refugee housing:

 Refugee Housing January 2020

Increasing numbers of refugees in Canada

CBC report on refugees ending up homeless, national study Click here

Report from the Migration Policy Institute on possible federal policy solutions to refugee housing problems
Click here

Meanwhile Spaces

“Former Toronto Hydro building becomes refugee shelter, thanks to Iranian-Canadian immigrants” 

Violence against refugee women

Housing Access for Immigrant and Refugee Women (IRW) Leaving Violence, a three-year community-based project 
Click here

Transitional housing in Toronto

North York shelters to be activated for transitional refugee housing  Click here