More help for Ukrainian refugees is on its way.
The Waterloo Region Grassroots Response to the Ukrainian Crisis (WRGR) just received a grant to help support families to host Ukrainian refugees in Waterloo Region.
The grant came from the Fund for Immigrant Economic Wellbeing, an initiative of Immigration Waterloo Region.
WRGR received $32,000 from the fund. The money will be used to offer a subsidy to families who take in Ukrainian refugee families, says Steph Goertz, the main contact for the Waterloo Region Grassroots Response. The subsidy they are able to give will be approximately $200 to $350 per month, depending on the size of the family being supported and the financial needs of the host.
WRGR is currently looking for about 15 places for Ukrainian families to live for up to three months.
“Sadly, we are not finding nearly enough hosts to support all of the families needing our help,” said Goertz.
“It gives us a heavy heart for all those who do need our help with connecting with hosts that we aren’t able to help.”
The organization is asking hosts to be able to sign up for a minimum of three months, though some hosts state they can only help for a few days or weeks in emergency or transitional situations.
So far, about 85 families in the region have opened up their homes to Ukrainian guests through WRGR, said Goertz. The Hillside Residence, a former retirement home in Maryhill, has opened up to receive guests, as well as the former Jakobstettel Inn in St. Jacobs.
The fund was established this year to support the employment, entrepreneurship and economic wellbeing of immigrants in the region, says Tara Bedard, the executive director of Immigration Partnership with the Region of Waterloo.
“We see this firmly aligned with our mission of creating the conditions for all immigrants to reach their full potential and contributing to a thriving community for everyone,” she said.
“We need everyone to ask their friends and family and neighbours if they have space in their homes. You would be surprised who has space and would be open to being a host if they know they will be working with our organization,” Goertz said.
“We are also looking for businesses that can donate housing and personal items such as pillows, blankets, and towels at a discounted rate.”
As well the organization is fundraising to help cover the cost for families to stay in the Hillside Residence.
Besides housing, employment is another important and urgent factor, said Goertz.
“We need more companies working with us who are willing to hire a number of Ukrainians that may not have strong English skills. The Ukrainians coming into Waterloo Region have many diverse professions and skill sets but they are setting this all aside to take on any job… so that they can start providing for their family.”
Goertz reiterated that Ukrainians coming into Canada do not receive the same supports as other refugees as they are not coming under traditional refugee programs. The bulk of the support received by incoming Ukrainians is a benefit of $3,000 per adult and $1,400 per child.
The volunteer-led group has an application process that refugee Ukrainians in Europe can complete if they want to come to Waterloo Region.