Closing hotel will provide temporary housing for Syrian refugees
Published Tuesday, December 8, 2015 5:45PM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, December 8, 2015 6:19PM EST
DH Food and Lodging in St. Jacobs will close to the public on Dec. 23 – and reopen a few days later with some new guests.
Between 16 and 22 Syrian refugees will be housed in the hotel’s nine rooms, as resettlement groups work to find them more permanent accommodations.
“It felt like the right thing to do, and we’re happy to do it,” said Marcus Shantz of Mercedes Corp., which owns the hotel.
“If all of us do some of these small things, then this big job of housing all of these newcomers to Canada will become an easier thing to do.”
While refugees are living there, Reception House will staff the facility around the clock with counsellors, support workers, and volunteers who can serve as translators for the refugees.
Local officials expect Waterloo Region to receive 850 refugees through the government-sponsored resettlement process.
Of those, about 260 or 270 could arrive before the end of the year.
Some will stay initially at Reception House’s 30-bed facility in Kitchener. Others will be housed at DH Lodging.
Negotiations continue to find other temporary homes for the refugees.
Officials at the University of Waterloo are attempting to figure out how many spaces might be available on their grounds.
After two to three weeks in locations like those, refugees will be moved to housing elsewhere in the community.
As of right now, Mercedes Corp.’s commitment to give up DH Food and Lodging rent-free runs through the end of January.
“If there’s a need that goes a little beyond that, we’re open to it,” Shantz said.
Elsewhere in St. Jacobs, church groups are working together to privately sponsor refugee families – and encouraging other organizations to do the same.
Mark Diller Harder, a pastor at St. Jacobs Mennonite Church, says sponsoring refugees “just feels like the right thing to do.”
“This is a significant crisis happening in our world … (and) a village that welcomes people,” he said.