The number of government-sponsored Syrian refugees who land in Ottawa is expected to more than double during the next month to 1,100 as local settlement agencies race to find housing for the newcomers.
In the coming week, about 35 Syrian refugees a day are expected to arrive in the city, said Carl Nicholson, executive director of the Catholic Centre for Immigrants, the agency responsible for the initial care of the Ottawa arrivals.
“It’s a very dynamic, fluid situation,” Nicholson told reporters Thursday after a meeting at city hall designed to improve co-ordination between the city’s settlement agencies.
The Syrian refugees are now being temporarily housed at the Maison Sophia Reception House and at three local hotels, where they’re equipped with health cards, social insurance numbers and banking information.
The big challenge now, Nicholson said, is to find enough two- and three-bedroom apartments for the large Syrian families that have arrived.
Out of the 90 families that have already landed, he said, accommodation has been found for 55 of them. Most of the families have four or five members; about 60 per cent of the new arrivals are children.
“Clearly, they want to live in places where there are concentrations of people like them, but we can’t always do that,” said Nicholson. “So sometimes, it takes persuading. They want to live together: It’s normal. It’s comfort, it’s security in a strange place.”