New Brunswick

Refugees aren't alone in struggle for affordable housing, says council

The managing director of the New Brunswick Multicultural Council suggests the influx of Syrian refugees should lead to a broader analysis of affordable and social housing across the country.

Hotel rooms will be temporary homes for some refugees until permanent places can be found

Alex LeBlanc of the New Brunswick Multicultural Council says language is not only learned in the classroom but also at work and in the community. (CBC)

The managing director of the New Brunswick Multicultural Council suggests the influx of Syrian refugees should lead to a broader analysis of affordable and social housing across the country.

Last month, the federal government announced it was looking for 150 hotel rooms in Fredericton and Oromocto for refugees.

The rooms will be used for temporary housing until suitable, permanent homes can be found.

Alex LeBlanc, the managing director of the multicultural council, told Information Morning Fredericton the request for hotel rooms in many urban centres is due to the general lack of affordable housing.

"[Refugees] face the same challenges that people in our province and across our country are facing," LeBlanc said of the current need.

He said seniors and many low income earners already find it difficult to find places they can afford.

In New Brunswick, roughly 29,000 people are already living in places they can't afford or living in substandard housing, said LeBlanc.

But LeBlanc also said he is confident that suitable, permanent homes can be found for all the refugees coming to New Brunswick. 

This province is slated to receive 1,500 refugees before the end of the year, and more than 1,000 have already arrived.

Hotel rooms found in Mactaquac

Temporary lodging has been found at the Riverside Resort in Mactaquac, but LeBlanc said it is difficult to say how long the refugees will stay there.

He said it depends on when permanent apartments are set up, and when families are ready to move in after having a chance to normalize with other families going through the process.

But LeBlanc also noted the Mactaquac location isn't close to many employment opportunities, and that besides safety and an education for their children, most next priority of most refugees is to find work.

"[They're] very motivated to support their families and be self-sufficient here," he said.

Ottawa will pay for the temporary lodging at the hotel and LeBlanc said he doubts this will add very much to the overall cost of resettling refugees from Syria. 

He also noted that federal Immigration Minister John McCallum singled out New Brunswick at a conference last week on the arrival of refugees.

LeBlanc said New Brunswick has resettled more refugees per capita than any other province.

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