Refugees become “invisible homeless” in face of staggering housing costs

Refugees fleeing to Canada pay as much as 75 percent of their income for housing, according to  a new report from UBC professor Dan Hiebert,  effectively making them “invisible homeless.”

Spiralling rents mean many refugees pay  more than 50 percent of their income on housing, says Hiebert, co-chair of Mayor Gregor Robertson’s Working Group on Immigration from 2010 to 2011.

These poor living conditions mean newcomers lack resources to become established and to support their families.

“Newcomers also face discrimination in the housing market,” Hiebert says, “with refugees, temporary residents, single parents, large families and people who do not speak English or French facing the greatest challenge.

“The housing situation generally improves over time for most immigrants but there’s a fraction of the immigrant population where the challenges remain and persist for a long time,” he said.