January 20, 2016 9:24 pm
Updated: January 20, 2016 9:39 pm

Large families of Syrian refugees struggle to find affordable housing in Calgary

WATCH ABOVE: Calgary is joining other cities from across Canada who are overwhelmed with the influx of refugees. The agency in charge of resettling families can’t find affordable homes big enough for large families. Bindu Suri explains.


CALGARY – The Alharere family is among 80 Syrian refugees staying at the Margaret Chisholm Re-settlement Centre until they can find a house. Through translator Adaw Wek, Oday Alharere says he finds Calgarians are very warm and welcoming.

150 other refugees are living in a hotel, but there’s a good chance the Alharere family of five will find a home soon.

Calgary Catholic Immigration Society, in charge of resettling refugees, is asking government to hold off on sending families of 7 or more members to Calgary.

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READ MORE: No pause on bringing Syrian refugees to Halifax: ISANS 

“Especially when the allowance they give you for housing is so low,” said Fariborz Birjandian. “The government allows $1500 maximum for a family of nine or 10. That explains why it’s becoming challenging.”

Saima Jamal  with Syrian Refugee Support Group Calgary said the city can and has accommodated larger families.

She points to a family of nine, as an example, who recently found a home and a community.

“We put one call out and got 15 to 20 volunteers just to help that one family,” said Jamal.

“Volunteers are coordinating who’s going to take them shopping, who’s brining them warm blankets.  We can re-settle large families, no problems.”

Jamal said families are still in need of household items like flat screen TV’s, laptops, microwaves, blenders, and carpets.

600 refugees have arrived in Calgary in the last 40 days. The majority are children.

250 government sponsored refugees are expected up until the end of March.

© 2016 Shaw Media

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