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Halifax developers donate apartments to Syrian refugees

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Halifax developers donate sixteen apartments to Syrian refugees
WATCH ABOVE: A group of Halifax developers are donating sixteen apartments to the Syrian refugee effort. Marieke Walsh reports – Jan 4, 2016

HALIFAX – Seven developers in Halifax are donating a total of 16 apartments for Syrian refugees moving to the city.

The apartments will be scattered across the city in neighbourhoods including Clayton Park, the South End and Spryfield. Each apartment will be available for a year and the Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia (ISANS) will be responsible for determining which families will get access to the apartments.

The announcement was hosted by Liberal MLA Labi Kousoulis. He says he came up with the idea of asking developers to donate vacant apartments after a friend of his donated one.

“Instead of having underutilized buildings we can fill them, and fill this city up, and fill this province up,” he said.

READ MORE: Halifax refugee centre to stop accepting donations due to ‘overwhelming generosity’

The total value of the donation is more than $200,000.

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One of the biggest single donations was made by Wadih Fares, the president and CEO of the WM Fares Group, who donated five apartments. He said his own experiences as a refugee from Lebanon moved him to act.

“It’s very important to feel welcome. It’s very important to feel support and warmth, because as it is, it’s not easy,” he said.

“The love and the compassion that Nova Scotians have shown so far to this cause, I believe to be very important and very good in making these newcomers welcome here in Nova Scotia.”

Approximately 100 Syrian refugees have already landed in Nova Scotia, and more than 53 of them have stayed in Halifax. ISANS helps settle both government and privately sponsored refugees, and both cohorts could benefit from the housing donation.

The organization’s director of operations Gerry Mills says even refugees sponsored by government face housing challenges because their housing allowance from the federal government often falls short.

“A family of four for instance, only gets $690 towards accommodation, so its very difficult for us to find accommodation,” Mills said.

A donation drop-off centre at 350 Horseshoe Dr. in Halifax will close after 8 p.m. on Tuesday. Haligonians can still drop off donations between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. on January 5.

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