Immigrants, newcomers harmed the most by lack of affordable housing

by Ephraim Vecina14 Aug 2019

The sustained lack of affordable housing across Canada is harming not only long-time residents, but also immigrants and newcomers.

According to two related reports just released by Employment and Social Development Canada, a growing contingent of these groups is ending up in shelters or going homeless altogether.

The national shelter study covering federal data from 2005 to 2016 indicated an “observable increase” in refugees using shelters. As of 2016, approximately 2,000 refugees were residing in shelters, not counting refugee-specific facilities.

Meanwhile, a “point-in-time” analysis of homelessness in 61 communities found that around 14% of homeless people were newcomers to Canada. As much as 8% identified themselves as immigrants, while 3% were refugees and 4% were refugee claimants.

Tim Richter, president of the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness, argued that governments at all levels should look into improving affordable housing supply. This holds especially true in the locales where refugees are settling.

Last year, the City of Toronto estimated that roughly 40% of its shelter occupants were refugees or asylum claimants. Montreal is also harbouring a significant number of those who are awaiting the results of their refugee claims.

“Many of them are coming to Toronto in Ontario, and to Quebec, and in those communities, the rental market is just really tight and we just don’t have the capacity to house them,” Richter told The Canadian Press.

“Homelessness is a function of housing affordability, availability and income. When you’re new to Canada, you generally won’t have the income to be able to buy a house, and there’s just not enough affordable housing options.”


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