Long-Term Housing Outcomes of Syrian Refugees in Canada

The Funding:

This Project entitled “Long-term housing outcomes of under-housed Syrian refugees” received funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) under the Insights grant stream, however, the views expressed are the personal views of the authors and not SSHRC.

The Challenge:

On being sworn in on November 4, 2015, the newly formed Government of Canada expanded Canada’s intake of Syrian refugees by 25,000. Funding was immediately allocated to this intake with a goal date for resettlement of February 2016. By that date, 26,172 Syrian refugees were resettled in Canada, with 47,735 resettled by August 2017 (Government of Canada, 2017).

London, Ontario supported 1,360 Government Assisted Refugees (GARs), and 625 further refugees through Private Sponsorship of Refugees (PSRs) and the Blended Visa Office Referred (BVOR) program. In 2016, a research team (Dr. Abe Oudshoorn, Dr. Sarah Benbow, and Matthew Meyer) was struck to explore their outcomes. In particular, there were concerns about housing outcomes following the 1-year resettlement period of intensive support.

The Process

17 Syrian families (resettled as GARs) in London and Calgary, and 14 Syrian families in Fredericton were interviewed. The families were interviewed every year (barring pandemic interruptions). The interviews asked about housing needs, challenges, and changes, integration in the community, and overall status of the family.


Abe Oudshoorn, Fawziah Rabiah-Mohammed, Leah Hamilton, Mohammed El Hazzouri, Cindy Brown, Luc Theriault, Victoria Esses, Eman Arnout, Mathew Vitale, Mohammad Bakhash, Sagida Elnihum, Sarah Benbow


For the London families, all 17 families identified themselves as under-housed. For all families, this included insufficient space for family size (most were in 2-bedroom apartments and included families of 5-7 persons, not including other extended family members temporarily co-housing), and for many families, rental costs deemed unsustainable, frustration with landlords/property managers, and poor housing conditions (disrepair, bed bugs, violence in shared spaces). 16 of the families expressed a desire to move as soon as possible. However, all 17 families clearly expressed a desired housing future different from their current situation, including improved space, safety, and/or home ownership.

The following figure is an preliminary model that offers a broad theoretical framework of what impacts achievement of desired housing.