Refugees fleeing war and homelessness continue to find homes in the Tri-Cities, according to the latest figures from a Vancouver-based refugee settlement agency.
In the first six months of the year, 22 people found homes in Coquitlam, roughly 11% of government-assisted refugees (GAR) who arrived in B.C. this year, according to the Immigrant Services Society of BC (ISSBC).
Coquitlam was second only to Surrey, where 58 people have so far settled in the community, or 29% of the 189 GAR who came to B.C. since January.
Other cities have also been able to house refugees, including Vancouver, where eight people were housed; Burnaby, where 13 people found homes; New Westminster, where 11 refugees moved; and Delta where eight refugees were accommodated.
(GAR receive one year of federal government support and are required to register with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, and meet eligibility requirements before bring resettled in Canada.)
But there are challenges in finding homes for everybody, according to ISSBC, which reports that 75 people are waiting to find permanent housing.
B.C. is expected to take in 1,200 refugees this year, ISSBC said in its latest bulletin, and has so far only seen about 25% of that number.
“The arrival flows for the remaining next six months of the year will be considerable,” the bulletin notes.
Of those who have arrived so far 41.8% are children under the age of 18 and the top five source countries for GAR are Syria, Iran, Somalia, Iraq and Congo.
As well as the 189 GAR who arrived to B.C. from source countries, 13 moved here from other provinces, according to ISSBC.
A group called the Tri-Cities Friends of Refugees has renovated and furnished several older townhomes in Coquitlam for refugees, including a townhome recently repaired and updated for a single mother and her son.
ISSBC, meanwhile, has offices in the Tri-Cities to help refugees find jobs and access services, and Settlement Workers in Schools are available to help families with school-aged children.