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Some Ukrainians refugees returning home due to K-W housing crisis: grassroots group


An organization that helps Ukrainian refugees resettle in Waterloo region says some are having so much trouble finding housing in Canada, they're opting to return to the war-torn country.

"Finding a place to stay is very close to another issue, finding a job," said Anzhelika Khven, a Ukrainian who moved to Canada last year. "These two things are very time consuming."

Khven was able to resettle, living with a host family in Waterloo region, but said not everyone fleeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine has had the same luck in Canada. It's something Waterloo Region Grassroots Response is seeing firsthand.

The volunteer-led organization is raising alarm over difficulty securing housing, claiming an increasing number of Ukrainian newcomers are facing homelessness upon arrival.

"People are arriving at the airport or have been in the government assisted hotels or shelter for two weeks and they didn't know where else to go. They felt they were going to become homeless," said Stephanie Goertz, an organizer with Waterloo Region Grassroots Response.

"When they come here, it's such a shocking culture change and everything is so car dependent that it's extremely hard, and so, many of them do consider going back, even though it's not safe."

Waterloo Region Grassroots Response helped 45 families resettle in March, but doesn't have exact figures for the number of families who may have decided to go back to Ukraine after arriving.

While Goertz calls Ottawa's decision to extend a temporary emergency visa program for Ukrainians a good step, she said it doesn't solve the shelter challenge.

"There's a huge gap of what the settlement services actually offer and what is actually needed to make a long-term sustainable life in Ontario," Goertz said.

Meanwhile for those who are able to find a home in Canada, there are new possibilities, far away from the strife they left.

“You never know what’s going to happen, so we’ve decided because of our daughter that we need to do our best to give her a safe future,” Khven said.

As housing challenges persist, the need for host families continues to grow. Waterloo Region Grassroots Response is looking to scale their efforts to Guelph and asking anyone who is interested in becoming a host to contact them. Top Stories

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