High housing prices have meant Syrian refugees in Metro Vancouver have had a harder time finding permanent housing than those who were settled elsewhere in Canada, with some waiting close to four months.
Nationally, more than 90 per cent of government-assisted Syrian refugees have found permanent housing, and in some cities, such as Ottawa, all have been housed.
In Metro Vancouver, there are 29 Syrian families still in temporary housing, said Chris Friesen, settlement services director with the Immigrant Services Society of B.C. Three of those families arrived in late December, and one has been shuffled between three temporary housing sites over that time period.
The Immigrant Services Society has found homes for 13 of the remaining families, including two of the three who have been here since December. They will be moving in the next 10 days, Friesen said, leaving 16 families still to house.
The cost of housing coupled with large family sizes — often in excess of six people — has made housing refugee families more of a challenge in Vancouver and Toronto than in other parts of the country, especially Alberta, where an economic downturn has depressed housing prices, Friesen said.
Victoria faces a similar challenge, with about 25 Syrian families in that city in need of permanent housing. Some of the refugees who initially arrived in Victoria have gone farther afield, to the Duncan area, in search of affordable housing.
In the past month, three of the Syrian families who came first to Vancouver were relocated to Vernon, Penticton and Summerland.