Refugee Influx in the midst of a Housing Crisis

Habitat for Humanity Hope Builder ProgramFrom coast-to-coast, Canada showcases its diversity through a multitude of ethnic backgrounds. Though more prevalent in major Canadian cities (Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver), our smaller communities also see visible minorities and new immigrants. These new Canadians come from all over the world looking for a place to call home.

Recently, Canada has seen an influx in refugees. Unfortunately, the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) is experiencing a housing crisis and has been for several years. With a lack of affordable housing available, these communities are unable to support their residents – let alone new ones.

Looking into some of the organizations who serve new Canadians, we’ll be addressing the issue of affordable housing in the GTA, the impact of the refugee influx, and how Habitat and our local communities can support new Canadians in accessing adequate and affordable housing.

Depending on your community, there are different organizations that support newcomers and refugees. The following is a list of some of the organizations that are available in the GTA.

(Please note that this is not an exhaustive list. We advise you to do your own research on additional organizations who provide support in your community.)

Government of Ontario

The Government of Ontario website offers a list of helpful agencies available to newcomers to ensure a successful integration in Ontario. These agencies assist you with settling into your community, finding housing, a job or childcare, and registering your children for school, to name a few. By searching your city on the website you will receive a list of local agencies at your disposal.

YMCA Greater Toronto

The YMCA Newcomer Information Centre is for newcomers to find useful information and helpful support in starting their new life in Canada. The Centre offers one-on-one information and referral services on numerous services such as housing, health, language classes, employment, and education and training. In addition, the Centre offers monthly information sessions to help you learn about and better prepare for life in Canada.

Halton Immigration Portal

The information on Halton’s website is aimed at helping newcomers, people planning to move to Halton and those who are supporting them. The site offers a list of resources available for housing, employment, child care, food, etc. Some of the services available are at the national level – Welcome to Canada and Settlement.Org – along with local settle services – Halton Multicultural Council (HMC) Connections, Centre for Education & Training, The Centre of Skills Development & Training Immigrant Services.

Please visit Halton’s immigration portal for a full list of available agencies, organizations and resources.

Housing information

This section of the Halton Region’s website offers information to help you find the perfect place to live. Resources include Housing Help, Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation and Emergency shelters. Please visit Halton’s housing portal for a full list of available agencies, organizations and resources to assist with your housing needs.

Halton Multicultural Council (HMC)

HMC’s mission is to help newcomers settle and integrate into a welcoming and inclusive Halton community. They offer services such as counselling, languages classes, employment support and volunteer opportunities.

Many of these organizations require the help of volunteers from the community to support the work they are doing.

In their National Housing Strategy, the federal government describes housing rights as human rights. This has resulted in decisions that support the development of affordable housing for local communities, and helps create policies that will help support our refugee influx.

Habitat for Humanity Halton-Mississauga knows that affordable homeownership plays a critical role in helping families create a new foundation for a stronger and brighter future. Affordable homeownership allows families to foster the skills and confidence they need to invest in themselves and their communities, which will have a life-changing impact on oneself.

Habitat strives to create a world where everyone has a safe and decent place to live. Habitat’s model of affordable homeownership bridges a gap for low-income working families, allowing them to pay an interest-free mortgage geared to their income in exchange for volunteering 500 hours with Habitat. As Habitat homeowners pay off their mortgage, the funds are invested into a revolving fund, used by their local Habitat to build more homes for low-income families in the community.

With the help of Habitat for Humanity Halton-Mississauga, the organizations mentioned in this article, and the numerous other organizations around the country who support newcomers, we can create a better Canada – one with affordable housing for all Canadians, new or old.

Visit Habitat for Humanity Halton-Mississauga’s volunteer page to find out how you can get involved today.

By: MARISA BACHETTI