Massive influx has Calgary charity seeking one-month homes for Ukrainian refugees
Trying to find housing for all Ukrainian evacuees coming to Canada is becoming a problem.
More than 130,000 Ukrainians have arrived in the country through the Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel (CUAET) program.
This allows Ukrainians and their immediate family members to stay in Canada as temporary residents for up to three years.
They are also eligible for an open work permit or study permit to help in their transition.
And because of the housing shortage, the Centre for Newcomers launched a campaign aimed at finding individuals or families to host Ukrainian evacuees on Wednesday morning.
"We're in a desperate, dire need at the moment for host homes to try to accommodate the evacuees coming from Ukraine," said Kelly Ernst, chief program officer for the Centre for Newcomers.
"So it's reaching the proportions of being a crisis moment."
Ernst says the shortage is caused by many people moving to Calgary because of lower rental rates compared to other big cities like Vancouver and Toronto.
The organization says all it takes is for the host to provide accommodation to Ukrainian evacuees for one month and it will help with paperwork, settlement assistance and job-search efforts.
The Ukrainian evacuees will pay for utilities.
"People who come here, they need one month of stay. It's an average time when family can find the long-term rent, job and settle down here in Calgary," said Nataliia Shen, housing co-ordinator for vulnerable populations for the Centre for Newcomers.
"That's why we really need this."
Dmytro Syrman and his family arrived in Calgary last March 19, after fleeing their hometown of Dniprorudne in Ukraine.
Syrman says when the Russian army occupied their city and it looked like they weren't leaving, he started to plan their escape.
They arrived in Canada through CUAET and are currently staying with their host family.
"We found a wonderful family and we're in here and starting a new life," Syrman said.
"We can't believe people who don't know us can help, and many helped us."
Syrman says they still have family members back in Ukraine and they connect with them over the internet.
Jeff Vosburgh and his family opened their doors for the Syrman family last week.
He said the decision came from their desire to help and give people a chance to build a life in Canada.
"I looked at our family, and I knew we could help," Vosburgh said.
The Vosburgh family says although there is a little language barrier, the experience has been good and the culture is not that different.
"I feel like it was a very good decision that we did this because, I mean, just the fact that we're helping, it changes their life," said Jenson Vosburgh.
"And I think it's probably one of the best things we've ever done."
The Centre for Newcomers is hoping to get up to 400 hosts for Ukrainian evacuees.
Those who are interested can sign up here.
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