Pathways for Refugees’ Descent into Homelessness in Edmonton, Alberta: The Urgent Need for Policy and Procedural Change

This study investigated pathways for refugees’ descent into homelessness in Edmonton, Alberta, one of Canada’s five largest urban municipalities. Interviews with a mixed sample of 19 adult refugees from Afghanistan, Congo, Ethiopia, Iraq, Pakistan, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, and Syria who experienced homelessness after their arrival, as well as focus groups with housing support workers, identified several types of critical incidents that can lead refugees to become displaced after migration, such as (a) abandonment by or conflict with one’s sponsor, (b) abandonment by settlement counsellors/housing caseworkers, (c) sudden rent increases, (d) discrimination by landlords or neighbors, and (e) property infestations.

When critical incidents are paired with long waiting lists for subsidized housing and a lack of knowledge of Canada’s official languages and housing system, refugees are most likely to become homeless. The study highlighted critical loopholes in immigration policy implementation that urgently need to be addressed to improve refugee housing outcomes.

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