Happipad, a home-sharing platform, hopes to connect refugees who need temporary housing with homeowners who have spare rooms to rent, in a bid to help ease the shelter crisis in Toronto.
Happipad, a non-profit which operates in cities across Canada, opened up its Refugee Housing Canada program in the Toronto area in August after it was initially launched it in Metro Vancouver. The platform has started accepting applications from potential hosts, who will eventually be connected with refugees from Happipad’s partner organization in Toronto, FCJ Refugee Centre.
The initiative came as Toronto seeks help to support the approximately 3,500 refugee claimants in its shelter system and after some people slept on the streets this summer.
Homeowners who are willing to rent out a furnished bedroom can register online at refugeehousing.ca to be matched with a newly arrived refugee or asylum seeker, set a rental rate and enter a fixed-term home-share agreement.
The program seeks to house 1,000 refugees in the Toronto area with funding from the Northpine Foundation, whose philanthropic duties include helping refugees in Canada.
Happipad revealed that its refugee housing program offers more than a bed — it also encourages offering newcomers guidance in the early stages of their new lives in Canada.
In an interview, Project Co-ordinator and Volunteer Nikolai Myhre said: “They’ll much more quickly become integrated and be able to independently navigate society in the future.”
He said the hosts will get to experience different cultures and contribute “to solving a difficult situation in our society.”
Happipad said hosts and refugees would be matched on the platform after identity verification, screening and police background checks have been carried out.
Myhre said once the pairing program is in full swing, hosts will be able to post photos of their rooms with a description of the living arrangement, filterable by price.
He said in addition to getting temporary housing through the program, refugees will be able to build Canadian credit and get a landlord reference through the program.
Happipad says the program caters to refugees who currently get government benefits that can that be used towards rent.
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