Large size of Syrian refugee families means homes harder to find

Syrian refugees are arriving in Halifax with lots of kids in tow, and that means it is taking longer to find homes to accommodate families of up to a dozen people.

Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia says average family arriving in N.S. has seven people

Gerry Mills is the director of operations for the Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia. She says big Syrian refugee families are arriving in the province and it's challenging to find housing for them. (www.isans.ca)

Syrian refugees are arriving in Halifax with lots of kids in tow, and that means it is taking longer to find homes to accommodate families of up to a dozen people. 

The average Syrian family coming to Nova Scotia has seven members, according to Gerry Mills, director of operations for the Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia.

Some are as large as 10 or 12 people, which means it will take time to find them somewhere to live, Mills told CBC's The Current. Some are staying in a local hotel in the meantime.

"For instance, at the hotel right now we have 120-odd people, we have 50 under the age of five," she said. "This is happening across the country."

Several families of 10 are arriving in Halifax soon, so ISANS wants to move those in the hotel into permanent accommodations by Friday. 

Busy but manageable

"There's no bottleneck right now. With the 120 that we have right now … we have secured apartments," said Mills.

But by the end of next week another 130 refugees are expected to arrive in Halifax.

At the same time, other Canadian cities are warning of problems accommodating so many refugees at once.

The federal Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship told CBC News in an email Wednesday that groups in Vancouver, Ottawa and Toronto asked the federal government to delay new arrivals of government-assisted refugees for a few days.

ISANS told CBC News that it didn't ask the government for a slow down.

Mills said the federal government's system for settling refugees is working well, but it's not perfect. 

"I think we're all working … without a complete road map. There are sure to be hiccups in the system, and we're all trying to work together.

"I think those systems are in place, I think there are tweaks probably that need to happen, but every day is a new day."

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