Syrian refugees: 300 refugees living in area hotels

Four newly-arrived refugee families from Syria moved into their permanent homes in Windsor Friday, but 300 are still living in area hotels.

'I want an ordinary house we can settle in'

The first four government-assisted Syrian refugees moved into their new homes, but 300 remain in area hotels. (Aadel Haleem / CBC)

Hanan Al Fashtaki wants a small house with a few bedrooms for her family of six to share.

"Any ordinary house, nothing super-fancy," Al Fashtaki told CBC News through a translator. "We don't want something that can't fit us, obviously, but I want an ordinary house that we can settle in."    

Al Fashtaki, her husband and four boys are some of the 300 Syrian refugees still living in two area hotels after arriving in Windsor over the last few weeks.   

Hanan Al Fashtaki says she's hoping for a small house for her family to live. (Aadel Haleem / CBC)

Things can be difficult with four boys sharing one room, she said.

"Sometimes it's very crowded," Al Fashtaki said. "Sometimes, I have to sacrifice my own sleep, sleeping on the floor so my kids can sleep comfortable. There's a lot of kids and they're very energetic so it's a challenge to keep them all in one room."

Since Dec. 29, 330 government assisted refugees have landed in Windsor, according to the Multicultural Council. The first four families moved into their homes today.

The council said it has between 10 and 20 days after a family arrives before finding them a permanent place to live.

"It's really a very happy time. Families are setting up roots in our community," Marcela Diaz told CBC News. "They're looking forward to their children enrolling in school, looking forward to learning English."

Diaz is the manager of the Windsor Resettlement Assistance Program at the Multicultural Council.   

For some families, the challenge isn't finding a house, it's getting a cheque from the federal government so they can pay rent.

"I know about three or four families who have found and secured a house, but are just waiting on cheques to be able to actually move into that house," said Lina Chaker, who is with the Syrian-Canadian Council.

A common issue for young families is keeping the kids occupied, she said.

"We do a lot of movie nights," Chaker said. "Some reading English books, different activities like that because it's kind of hard to contain all of the kids in a small hotel."