Supporting Refugee Housing and Resettlement Beyond the Syrian Refugee Crisis
By Ray Silvius, Hani Ataa Al-Ubeady, Dyland Chyz-Lund, Carlos Colorado and Emily Halldorson
In this report we demonstrate the specific constellation of events, initiatives, and supports that contributed to housing refugees from Syria who arrived in Manitoba beginning in November 2015. Relative to those of other recent refugee arrivals to Canada, the ‘Syrian Case’ has been unique, insofar as a considerable amount of national attention was devoted to the matter. The arrival of Syrians has been politically polarizing–indeed it became a decisive issue during the 2015 federal election in Canada and served as a touchstone for arguments for and against immigration to Canada, in general, as well as as supportive and reactionary sentiments about the presence of Muslims in Canadian Society. Read more…..
IRCOM staff and participants.
By Jill Bucklaschuk,
As housing advocates across the country recognize National Housing Day on November 22nd, we must continue to acknowledge the central role of housing in building inclusive communities and seek ways to ensure that all low-income families have access to affordable, safe, and good quality housing. Vulnerable and marginalized populations such as newly arrived immigrant and refugee families all too often suffer the indignity of scouring the private rental market for suitable housing only to face discrimination, unaffordable rental rates, poorly cared for buildings, and undesirable neighbourhoods. Upon arrival in Canada, obtaining housing is a top priority for newcomer families, but finding a suitable residence proves to be a profound challenge without social networks, employment prospects, and knowledge about the nature of both rental markets and neighbourhoods. Continue reading
By Jess Klassen
Since late 2014, twenty-six families in Winnipeg’s inner city have been living in a new, supportive social and affordable housing complex called WestEnd Commons. The innovative development was retrofitted in the 100-year-old St. Matthew’s Anglican Church building. Church and community leaders worked for years to build the affordable family housing complex in Winnipeg’s low-income West End neighbourhood. In addition to reduced rents, WestEnd Commons has a vision to create community and increase social inclusion in this inner city neighbourhood. Full Report
WestEnd Commons hosts three components: a Neighbourhood Resource Centre, a number of independent faith communities and the twenty-six housing units. The Neighbourhood Resource Centre is a social enterprise that rents space to various community-based organizations providing essential services to people in the West End. Community members have long relied on the services and support provided by this welcoming community space, such as a food bank, drop-in, free computer and phone, sewing programs, artists’ circles, meeting and event space and a commercial kitchen. Seven communities worship within the walls of WestEnd Commons, including St. Matthew’s Anglican Church, Grain of Wheat Church-Community, Shiloh Apostolic, Emmanuel Mission and others. Finally, twenty-six units of social and affordable family housing have been erected within the walls of the church.
The idea for this ambitious project was conceived in a difficult time for the housing sector. Federal investments in housing have decreased by over 46 percent over the last twenty-five years, while the Canadian population has grown by almost 30 percent (Gaetz et al., 2014), meaning fewer affordable housing options remain for a growing number of Canadians. Locally, Manitoba Housing Renewal Corporation (MHRC) spent years acting as property manager of a deteriorating public housing stock with little capacity or intention to increase the supply of social and affordable housing, although that has changed in the past decade. Despite these odds, St. Matthews Non-Profit Housing Inc. was formed by a driven group of church and community leaders in 2009, with WestEnd Commons as its first build.
This report explores the interplay between low-cost housing with supports, and social and economic inclusion in society, through interviews with twenty-one residents. It is evident that living in WestEnd Commons has increased residents’ economic inclusion through the provision of subsidized rents, and has increased their social inclusion through supportive policies and programming.
By Zoё St-Aubin and Jill Bucklaschuk
Manitoba has embarked on aggressive immigration strategies to attract newcomers to settle in a variety of communities in the province with the purpose of meeting local labour force demands. In response to these trends, it is necessary to have appropriate and effective support systems to assist in the long-term settlement and integration of the increasing number of newcomers. Prior to the federal government’s changes to the delivery model of settlement services in 2012, these services were a provincial responsibility in Manitoba, Quebec, and British Columbia. As a result of federal and provincial agreements, the settlement service framework gave these provinces considerable discretion over how services were implemented, funded, and delivered, with the purposes of addressing region-specific needs. There was an acknowledgement that individual regions had unique settlement needs and that service delivery should be tailored rather than implemented in one-size-fits-all fashion. However this has all changed. Continue reading
For the full report, see here.
by Lindsay Larios
As Manitoba has welcomed many newcomers over the last few years, it has developed services to help these individuals and families adapt. Refugee families and individuals struggle with multiple challenges such as language, literacy and trauma-related mental health issues. A coordinated, integrated approach is needed to assist newcomers to navigate social systems and receive the support required to transition successfully to Canadian society.
The Family Centre of Winnipeg has endeavoured to address the unique needs of this population. Its Family Supports for Refugees (FSR) program provides extensive support services using a unique client-centred model for refugee families facing multiple barriers or challenges. The program is set up to be flexible in the services it can provide and is able to adjust those services to its clients’ needs. The Family Centre support coordinators work closely with families, helping to identify their needs and appropriate resources.