A place to call home — at an affordable price

We all need a roof over our heads, and for refugees fleeing war-torn countries, that roof has been elusive. But even in Ottawa, finding affordable shelter is a challenge.

Refugee 613 works with housing advocates, settlement agencies, private landlords, housing co-ops, the City of Ottawa and other partners at its Housing Task Force, to collaborate on expanding the supply of low-cost housing, reduce the impact of the current influx of refugees on the existing housing supply and help refugees and other newcomers hold on to their housing on a limited budget. This is a long-term project that calls for city-wide collaboration and effort on housing policy issues at the local, provincial and federal levels. It has also led to some creative initiatives, including the launch of Roofs for Refugees.

Roofs for Refugees is a grassroots, volunteer-run web portal and housing service that connects housing offers from the public with refugees, sponsorship groups, and settlement agencies. Roofs for Refugees screens the housing offer and coordinates with settlement agencies and private sponsors to facilitate a housing match.

If you have a vacant apartment or house, we invite you visit the web site www.roofs4refugees.ca to upload details about your offer. You will be asked to describe the size, location, price, and other information.  Please note that refugees have very modest budgets. The funding they receive is roughly equivalent to social assistance rates. Housing is the single greatest support you can offer a recent arrival, but do not upload your offer unless you are prepared to be flexible in the rent.

If you have other questions about housing for refugees, please send an email to housing@refugee613.ca and our volunteers will connect you to the right experts.


Do refugees receive help to find housing?

Housing officers at settlement agencies help all refugees, including claimants, find places to rent. Private sponsors are obliged to have a home ready for their newcomers.

Is there enough affordable housing for everyone in Ottawa?

There is a shortage of affordable housing here and it is always a challenge for newly arrived refugees — like other people living on low incomes — to find adequate housing on their limited incomes. So far, however, many private landlords have stepped up to assist in finding permanent housing for the large numbers of Syrian arrivals.

Will refugees jump ahead of others in the wait for social housing?

No. Refugees are not allowed to apply for social housing until they have been in Canada for one year. After that, they will be eligible to apply to be placed on the waiting list, like anyone else. There are currently several thousand names on the waiting list for social housing in Ottawa.

How can I get some reassurance about refugee as tenants?

Private sponsors will sometimes co-sign a lease with a newcomer, and they will also help you to develop and maintain a good relationship with your new tenant.

Government-assisted refugees have the services of a housing officer at one of the settlement agencies, who can also provide support to both you and the newcomer, including access to interpreters to help clarify information and help resolve any problems that might arise.

Contact housing@refugee613.ca if you have more questions about support for landlords renting to refugees.