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Waterloo Region Landlords Welcome Refugees Award

Posted on Thursday November 17, 2016

Waterloo Region has always welcomed refugees. The Waterloo Region Landlords Welcome Refugees Award recognizes landlords that went above and beyond to provide affordable housing solutions for refugees in the last year.  

2016 saw a tremendous outpouring of community caring to and support for the resettlement of hundreds of Syrian refugee families in Waterloo Region. The winners of this award are a few of the amazing examples of this response.

The inspiring stories of how they each provided innovative, flexible and caring housing solutions for refugees are shared at: www.immigrationwaterlooregion.ca.

Check out their stories and contact Immigration Partnership if you are interested in helping to provide housing solutions for refugees in Waterloo Region.

2016 Award Winners

Alieu Kamara
Alieu Kamara came to Canada as a refugee several years ago. He now rents accommodation in his own house. He is flexible with rent to ensure that it is affordable for single refugees and allows them to move out when they need to. It is evident that he cares for refugees settling in Waterloo Region.

Carole Kozlowski
Carole Kozlowski and Balnar Property Management reserved 10 units for Syrian refugees this year and were flexible with when they could move in. They work to make the transition as smooth as possible for refugee residents. They have an Outstanding Resident Award that was awarded to a recent refugee this year.

Debbie and Jim Rae
Debbie and Jim Rae have been personally involved in creating a caring and diverse community in their housing complex and welcoming many refugee families with open arms. They have walked beside their neighbours during moments of grief and loss, and celebrated new arrivals, job successes and birthdays with all the residents. They follow their hearts when helping people in the application process - not always requiring an exact formula to qualify; instead, they listen to the story and give people a chance.

Dr. David Wolkoff
Dr. David Wolkoff purchased two townhouses and specifically conferred with Ray of Hope’s “Welcome Home Refugee House” about the need and details about the kind of housing and location that would be the most beneficial for refugees. He ensures that rent is affordable for refugees on a limited income.

Janet Brown
Janet Brown and Sprucewoods Cooperative Homes offered two of their townhouses to Syrian refugees. Janet saw that this was an exceptional situation and worked with the coop board to temporarily set aside normal intake and waitlist procedures to accommodate the pressing need of these families. Janet advocated with the coop board and with other landlords to encourage them to support refugees.
Jim and Becky Dorscht
Jim and Becky Dorscht rented a unit to an older refugee couple and show an immense amount of acceptance and caring. They worked with family’s private sponsorship group to help them move in. Jim and Becky are attentive to the little things - from using their own vehicle to help move larger furniture, to staying for coffee or explaining how to put out the garbage and use a kettle.

Pam and Gerry Schaus
Pam and Gerry Schaus repurposed their five-bedroom student house to accommodate one of the large Syrian families that arrived in Waterloo Region. They lowered the rent to be affordable for the family – accepting the family with no credit, rental or work history in Canada. As next door neighbours who had long lived in the neighbourhood, Gerry and Pam have also provided support and connections for the family.

Robert Vermette
Robert Vermette repurposed his 15-bedroom student rooming house for refugees. He partnered Ray of Hope’s “Welcome Home Refugee House” to provide one 5-bedroom unit for single males, one 5-bedroom unit for single females, a 3-bedroom family unit and a Welcome Centre for residents and staff to use as a common meeting space to share life together. Robert invested in extensive renovations and lowered the cost of the lease to make it affordable for the residents and Welcome Home.