Waterloo Region not short on temporary refugee housing: official
Two of seven children from the Abu-Asbaa family, who left Syria in 2013, play in the snow in Kitchener on Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2015.
While other municipalities ask for a temporary halt to the flow of refugees into their communities, officials in Waterloo Region say they’re not interested in joining the list.
Citing housing concerns, Vancouver and Ottawa have both asked the federal government to give them a break from accepting new government-sponsored refugees.
Officials in both cities said that temporary accommodations had been filled to capacity, and no new refugees could be taken in until some people were moved into permanent homes.
That issue isn’t a concern in Waterloo Region, according to Bert Lobe, the executive director at Reception House – the agency which deals first with government-sponsored refugees arriving locally.
“We are in a very good position on housing,” Lobe said Tuesday.
Currently, the bulk of government-sponsored refugees in Waterloo Region – 158 of them – are being housed at the Howard Johnson hotel in Kitchener.
Another 37 or so are at Reception House itself, with 25 more at the former DH Food and Lodging hotel in St. Jacobs.
A house in Kitchener has also been set aside for temporary accommodations.
All of those locations are designed to be for short-term stays – two weeks, ideally – before the people are moved out to more permanent accommodations.
Lobe says that many local refugees will “probably” stay in their temporary past the two-week mark, although long-term homes are being found.
“This week, we will have eight families moving to their permanent residences,” he said.
The typical resettlement process sees children only placed in schools once permanent homes have been found for their families.
With some families expected to be spending longer in temporary accommodations than normal, other arrangements are being made.
“If individual families end up staying (in temporary housing) longer than two or three weeks, we will have them in school,” Lobe said.
“That’s the plan, and the boards have been very, very helpful in that regard.”
It is expected that more than 400 government-sponsored refugees will be in Waterloo Region by the end of February.
There are 36 cities across Canada designated as arrival spots for government-sponsored refugees.