This post is part of our refugee series, Leaving Home: A Series Exploring the International Refugee Crisis and is provided by Codi Guenther, Executive Director of New Journey Housing. The multi-part blog series features stories from those on the ground, as well as the response from charities and Canadians across the country. In this blog, we learn how one charity is working to ensure refugees coming to Manitoba find a safe place to call home.
The Need For a Home:
When a family of newcomers first arrives in Canada, there are so many things they need to figure out. Everything from identification documents, to school, to clothing and housing is new, and the whirl wind of a new system doesn’t seem to subside until they can at least find a place to call home. Many newcomers will either share a home with friends and family, or stay in temporary housing until they are able to find a place of their own. With no rental references and often low income, it is a huge challenge to find a place that is within budget, safe, and close to necessities such as school, shopping and places of worship.
What Does New Journey Housing Do?
New Journey Housing (NJH) is a housing resource centre for newcomers to Canada. We are based in Winnipeg, Manitoba and we work with any newcomer that needs some help with either finding, keeping, or even buying housing. We are a one-stop-shop for housing information and resources, and we strive to reduce the many difficulties newcomers face when trying to find housing in Manitoba.
Our housing team works one on one with clients to work through tough situations such as dealing with bedbugs, evictions, and finding housing on a tight schedule. We do not guarantee that we will find anyone a house, but we do provide training through rental, home purchasing, and money management workshops. We believe that information is vital to establish a home in a new country. Our goal is to empower our clients with knowledge about the housing system in Manitoba so that they can make choices that best support their family. New Journey Housing believes that all people should have the same accessibility to find affordable housing, and we recognize that every client that comes to us is very different and comes to us with different needs and abilities.
One story of how we help find accessing housing is that of the Abram family*.
Abram’s Family Story:
The Abram’s are a very good example of a family that was in unstable and unsafe housing that hindered their ability to truly make Winnipeg their home. They couldn’t focus on advancing their education or careers because planning long-term seemed pointless when they were dealing with different emergencies day-to-day.
The Abram’s were living in a rundown apartment that had no regular heat and was in a neighbourhood that they did not feel safe in. They had a landlord that was taking advantage of the fact they were newcomers, and they didn’t know their housing rights. They came to New Journey Housing as the weather was getting colder, and they told us that they had to move out as soon as possible because their kids were becoming ill due to the apartment conditions and they no longer felt safe in their house. Thankfully we were able to work together and find an affordable apartment through a local non-profit housing provider. The Abram’s have been living in their new home for over two years now and have since both completed schooling. Their kids are doing well in school, they had another baby, and they are now looking to buy their first home!
*Names have been changed.