3.2 Housing


Users are responsible to connect with government and local organizations to ensure access to information relevant to refugee sponsorship in their community.



Finding Housing



Considering Housing Options

1. Size of housing
Take into account the number of people who will be living together and look for a housing option suitable to the size of the family. 

2. Affordability after the sponsorship period
Consider housing that the newcomers can afford if they are unemployed and relying on social assistance. Being forced to change neighborhood and/or downsize may impact their integration. 

3. Suitability
Look for adequate, clean and well maintained building with responsive and welcoming landlords.  Take into consideration accessibility needs (e.g. ramps, elevators, etc.) and housing adaptation needs (may be related to mental health conditions or culturally specific). A few strategies you may take to validate suitability: 

  • Search for reports of pest issues in the apartment building. 
  • Talk to the landlord to assess their  behavior and ask questions related to maintenance requests. 
  • Talk to the tenants/neighbours to get a sense of how it is to live in the building/neighbourhood. 
  • Verify with the newcomers any specific housing related needs

4. Safety
Consider the following questions: Is the potential accommodation in a high-crime area. Is the accommodation properly secured, for example, with locks on the entrances and units? Are the surroundings and transit routes safe for children (if applicable)?

5. Proximity to services and support
Consider the home’s location to services that the refugee newcomers may access such as public transportation, schools, grocery store, and places of worship (if applicable). Living within reasonable proximity to you or some of your group members can also facilitate the provision of support. 

Strategies for Finding Housing

1. Share your search with your personal networks 
Share your search for housing with your friends, neighbours, colleagues, community, and family.  Make sure they are aware of why you are looking for a property, what type of property you are likely to need, and how they can help.

2. Distribute leaflets in your area 
Use Google Maps to divide your neighbourhood into sections and ask members of your group to distribute leaflets in specific streets. Ask your library and local shops if these leaflets can be displayed.  

As a creative example of raising community awareness about the need for housing,  a sponsorship group in London, United Kingdom, distributed 7,000 leaflets covering every street in their neighborhood and found three suitable properties. They rented one of the properties and informed other sponsorship groups of the remaining two.  Source: Find a house, Sponsor Refugees

3. Use social media 
If your group is using social media, ask local charities or local groups to share your posts about your housing search to reach new audiences. Keep repeating your ask and share updates when a property is found.  

4. Contact property management companies
Contact big landlords with multiple properties. Sympathetic companies can help you determine availability across their properties and find one that is within budget. 

5. Make the most of local advertising 
Some landlords do not like advertising their properties online and prefer to rent their houses to people from their neighbourhood. Check for signs in gardens, and advertisements in local newspapers, libraries, and community noticeboards.

6. Check websites with rental postings 
Try searching on websites where you can connect with several property owners directly. For example, common websites used to find rental properties in Canada are Craigslist and Kijiji. 

7. Reach out to faith groups or community organisations in your area 
Ask your local places of worship, sports clubs, universities, and community centres to share your property hunt with their members.

8. Contact Residents’ or Housing Associations 
Contact your local Residents’ or Housing Associations. They may be able to provide you with advice on how to find affordable housing in your area.

Source: Reset UK YouTube ‘Home Office Videos – Housing



Housing Considerations



If pre-arrival communication is possible, verify with the newcomers any specific housing related needs. Try to include the people you are sponsoring in choosing their housing via clear communication about housing choices, size of properties, location, amenities, and cost. This may or may not be possible due to the program requirements in your country.

Communication on Housing Choices

The people you are welcoming may or may not be aware of the reality of low-income housing and potentially high rental prices in their resettlement community. Discuss together the housing budget and what fits within this price range.

For example, someone who has lived in a four-bedroom home in their country may expect to live in a four-bedroom home. Showing those properties and the costs associated to them may help manage expectations. You can learn more about the type of housing the refugee newcomers had in their home country and show them online listings of properties that may match the size and type of housing. 

Settling In 

Once housing has been secured, you can focus on helping with settling in!

It is helpful to have conversations with the people in the family to make sure they are comfortable with their living space, to answer question and review when needed elements related to household safety. Some of the tasks listed below may not end up being necessary. This conversation may also be an interesting opportunity to learn about cross-cultural differences in setting up and maintaining a household. Here are examples of ways to assist the refugee newcomers settling into their new home: 

  • Go over the basics, including security and locks, safety devices such as fire and carbon monoxide detectors, appliances, garbage and recycling, sanitation, and the mailbox. You may also indicate any other items already to their disposition in the house such as plunger, vacuum cleaner, etc.
  • Ensure to provide the contact information for maintenance request. It may be a good idea to provide a list (if needed, using translated language or pictures) of key services and individuals to contact.
  • Have a conversation about the rights and obligations of tenants vis-à-vis their landlords. For example, review the lease with the people you are sponsoring so they are aware of the conditions of rental (when rent is due, how to pay rent, whether tenant’s insurance is required, whether utilities are included in the rent, etc.). If needed, provide a translated copy of the lease. Refugee newcomers may or may not have been on a lease before, so it would be beneficial to take this opportunity to learn more about the cross-cultural differences in renting property.
  • Have a conversation about rights and obligations as tenants vis-à-vis other tenants in the building. For example, there may be rules or regulations regarding noise or use of common space. Discuss together what can be done if an issue arises with another neighbor.



Housing Scenario 1



You are sponsoring Hanna, Ismaël and their two children.  Your group members have secured a lease for a two-bedroom apartment in the same urban center as them.

However, the family recently explained to you that in their home country, they lived in a four-bedroom home, and that they are reluctant to live in a two-bedroom apartment in the resettlement community because they believe it is too small.

Consider the following questions. When you have had a few of your own ideas, you can click on the ‘Show More’ text, to see some suggestions.

How does this scenario relate to the principle of ‘Managing Expectations’?

What concerns should your sponsorship group consider?

What steps could your sponsorship group take to address this situation?



Housing Scenario 2



Your are sponsoring Aderonke and her two children. They have been living in a two-bedroom apartment close to the downtown area for the past two months.

Last weekend, Aderonke revealed to Natalia, one of your group members, that she is feeling harassed by her neighbor, Emilio. Specifically, Aderonke told Natalia that Emilio makes comments about her body and that she should date him every time they cross paths in the apartment building. His comments are causing Aderonke a lot of stress, to the point where she tries to only leave and enter her apartment building when she does not think she will pass by Emilio.

Consider the following questions. When you have had a few of your own ideas, you can click on the ‘Show More’ text, to see some suggestions.

What safety concerns are being raised in this scenario?

What actions can the group take to address these concerns?

What principles of ‘Privacy and Confidentiality’ are important to consider in this scenario?



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