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Resettlement organizations can’t cope with surge of Syrian refugees arriving in Ottawa, ask for a break

Refugee arrivals halted to deal with Ottawa housing shortage

Search is on for affordable units as 450 government-sponsored refugees wait in temporary housing

By Giacomo Panico, CBC News Posted: Jan 19, 2016 2:42 PM ET Last Updated: Jan 19, 2016 2:42 PM ET

This family is among the 450 Syrian refugees who've arrived in Ottawa since the start of 2016.

This family is among the 450 Syrian refugees who’ve arrived in Ottawa since the start of 2016. (CBC)

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Resettlement organizations scrambling to cope with the surge of Syrian refugees arriving in Ottawa have asked for — and received — a pause to let them find suitable housing for families already here.

The request came after the agency overseeing the arrival of government-sponsored Syrian refugees in Ottawa reported that all 450 temporary housing spots were full, since many of the families have not yet been able to secure permanent housing.

The executive director of the Catholic Centre for Immigrants, Carl Nicholson, said he expects the pause to last a week, though he’s still negotiating details with federal officials. Nicholson said some of the refugees are currently in transit and the agency doesn’t want to interrupt the government’s plans.

Carl Nicholson

Carl Nicholson is the executive director of Ottawa’s Catholic Centre for Immigrants. (CBC)

The pause applies only to government-sponsored refugees and does not affect refugees sponsored by private groups.

Ottawa expects to welcome about 1,200 Syrians by the end of February. So far about 500 have arrived.

Housing shortage part of bigger problem

Nicholson said several factors have made the task of housing refugees more difficult. One issue is that some of the families that have arrived were larger than expected, creating a mismatch with available housing.

Also complicating resettlement efforts is the city’s centralized waiting list for affordable housing, which stands at 10,000 requests with an estimated wait of 5 years.


(…)Refugee 613 Housing and the Catholic Centre for Immigrants are preparing to launch a website where property owners hoping to connect with someone in need of affordable housing can list their available units.


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