Asylum seekers experience hurdles, discrimination as they contend for housing in Montreal


Pedro Fonseca, a 43-calendar year-aged asylum seeker from Colombia, states if he doesn’t start acquiring social help from the Quebec government shortly, he’ll most likely become homeless.

He suggests he could ask household again household for a personal loan — but his relations have small dollars.

“I am trying to be optimistic, but it’s quite demanding,” Fonseca said in Spanish in the course of a the latest job interview at his household in Montreal’s Rosemont-La-Petite-Patrie borough.

Fonseca, who crossed into Quebec from the United States in late November via Roxham Road — an irregular border crossing utilized by thousands of migrants a year — is down to his previous few hundred bucks and dwelling with a roommate in a modest, two-bed room condominium. He pays $410 a month.

The asylum seeker can’t get a do the job permit until eventually he is interviewed by the federal Immigration Department about his refugee declare his appointment is in March 2024.

Fonseca is amid the 39,171 asylum seekers who crossed into Quebec in 2022 by way of Roxham Street — an once-a-year file. He and other would-be refugees are putting force on Quebec’s social providers and competing with inhabitants for limited housing options.

Melissa Claisse, from the Montreal-primarily based Welcome Collective, a neighborhood business that assists refugee claimants, stated asylum seekers confront massive issues locating residences.

“It is magnified for this populace for the reason that of their precarious immigration standing,” Claisse stated in a the latest interview. “We have families who experience a great deal of ripoffs. We try out to warn family members about these kinds of issues.”

Challenging hunt for a new house

When asylum seekers get there in Quebec, they are transported to lodges rented by the federal government, and immediately after a brief time period, they are moved to authorities-run shelters. If would-be refugees have revenue or are acquiring Quebec social aid, they have to uncover a location of their personal.

Fonseca is a veteran of Colombia’s army, and he said he and his wife were threatened with violence for the reason that of his previous as a soldier. He claimed he arrived at a Montreal-space resort on Nov. 29 and a few weeks later on was moved to a shelter in downtown Montreal, while his wife and 15-12 months-aged son remained again residence in Floridablanca, about 400 kilometres northeast of the money, Bogota.

At the shelter, Fonseca was assigned to a room with 3 other males and advised by officials he wanted to locate housing in 7 times since he arrived in Canada with too much revenue — $2,400 US. He claimed he filed his Quebec social aid paperwork and is waiting around for a reply.

In late December, Fonseca moved into a just one-bed room condominium in Montreal with 3 other asylum seekers.

“Two of the guys ended up sharing the bedroom, and the Venezuelan and I shared a mattress he found in the avenue that he placed in the dwelling room,” Fonseca said. “There was no privateness.” He paid $380 for a a single-month remain, like heating and web.

Fonseca invested the following weeks on Fb on the lookout for an condominium. On one particular situation, he said he fulfilled a male who introduced himself as a landlord who realized men and women at Immigration Canada and who could assistance him obtain operate less than the desk.

“He informed me that I essential to be open up-minded for this arrangement … and propositioned intercourse in trade for a location to are living,” Fonseca said.

Some asylum seekers, nevertheless, have been luckier than other people in the research for housing.

Maria Fernanda Lopez, 43, also from Colombia, said her family members experienced an easier time discovering a household in Montreal compared to a lot of other refugees they know. She said her husband’s fluency in French aided.

Maria Fernanda Lopez, correct, and her daughters, Alejandra Ortiz, left, and Sarah Cortes, centre, in their Montreal condominium. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

The couple arrived in Quebec as a result of Roxham Road on Dec. 21 with their two daughters, Alejandra Ortiz, 19, and Sarah Cortes, 9, and stayed at a lodge on Montreal’s South Shore until finally they were capable to discover a two-bedroom apartment in Montreal. They moved in on Feb. 3 their hire is $1,160 a thirty day period.

“The fact that my partner speaks the language has helped us very and opened many doors due to the fact our arrival. But we continue to faced lots of complications,” Lopez mentioned.

She stated the family felt tension to uncover housing mainly because they had been explained to they could only remain at the government-subsidized resort for a few months. Lopez mentioned she and her husband desired to steer clear of keeping in a shelter since there was a prospect their daughters would not be allowed to sleep in the very same area with them.

‘Incredibly grateful’ for apartment

The couple and their youthful daughter are receiving $1,300 a month from the Quebec government Ortiz receives $750.

“We were being priced out of the greater part of the locations that we uncovered,” Lopez mentioned. “A person condominium we visited had no heating, but because of our predicament, we deemed it. We knowledgeable a large amount of discrimination whilst traveling to multiple residences.”

Lopez mentioned that when her husband would converse to the landlords or tenants over the cellular phone, they ended up pretty friendly. But the moment they would meet in human being, their demeanours would alter and they would come up with excuses for not renting them the condominium.

“In just one occasion, the landlord advised us outright that he did not hire to refugees,” Lopez claimed.

Lopez mentioned her family observed a spot simply because they bonded with the tenant of the condominium they would sooner or later lease. The tenant is a instructor, like Lopez’s husband.

“As my spouse advised her about our journey, she determined to set in a fantastic phrase for us (with the landlord) even although she had about 40 visits to go,” Lopez explained.

“We were being unbelievably grateful we received the condominium — but I consider we are the exception. At the hotel, quite a few people today could not even take in due to the fact of the panic they felt getting to discover a place to stay.”

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