Subject: Press Release - City of Vancouver boosts funding to help asylum seekers

April 26, 2017
City of Vancouver boosts funding to help asylum seekers
Increased US border crossings put strain on community agencies

April 26, 2017 (Vancouver, BC) – Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson today announced funding of $181,220 for agencies serving refugee claimants at the same time that these agencies released the inaugural issue of a quarterly refugee claimant bulletin.

The mayor joined representatives from Settlement Orientation Services (SOS) through the Immigrant Services Society of BC (ISSofBC), Inland Refugee Society of BC (IRS), Kinbrace Community Society and the Vancouver Association for Survivors of Torture (VAST) at the ISSofBC Welcome Centre to recognize the funding approved recently by the Vancouver City Council.

“With the recent influx and growing numbers of refugee claimants crossing the US border, we are very pleased to receive additional support from the City of Vancouver to meet these increase demands” said Mona Hassannia, manager of Settlement Orientation Services (SOS).

Data on cross-border arrivals and other claimant-related statistics, trends and observations are featured in the quarterly Refugee Claimants Statistical Highlights bulletin released today. A flow chart showing how refugee claimants are handled in BC was also released to provide information on the local response and supports to date.

“Housing is the most urgent need for refugee claimants coming into Vancouver. We are calling on the public to help us provide short and longer term housing,” said Mario Ayala, IRS executive director. “This city funding is invaluable as we work to better coordinate the increase housing demands.”

“Vancouver is known throughout the world for our remarkable diversity. We have a longstanding commitment to welcoming refugees and their families in times of need,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson. “This funding will help continue the work to make Vancouver a safe and welcoming city for everyone, and the City is pleased to support this important work.”

The funding recently approved by Vancouver City Council includes:
  • $70,220 to ISSofBC and SOS, including $18,000 increase for pre-settlement, first language supports;
  • $66,000 to the IRS, including $4,000 to support a housing coordinator serving newly-arrived and recently-settled refugee claimants;
  • claimant process and help prepare them for their refugee hearing;
  • $40,000 to VAST to address mental health issues of refugee claimants who have experienced trauma due to torture, political violence and other forms of persecution.
The ISSofBC Welcome Centre – now a regional service hub for refugee claimants in BC along with co-location partners SOS, IRS, and VAST – assisted 284 refugee claimants from over a dozen countries from January 1, 2017 to March 31, 2017.

While 182 refugee claimants have currently found temporary housing throughout the Lower Mainland as of March 31, 2017, 65% or 118 individuals are currently living in various places within the City of Vancouver.

FOR MORE INFORMATION AND COPIES OF THE REPORTS

Inland Refugee Society (IRS)
Website: http://inlandrefugeesociety.ca/
Assists and supports refugee claimants in meeting their immediate needs and in adapting to their new home; including orientation, information, referrals, English Classes, temporary housing, food, transportation, and other services.
Ilona Beiks, Vice President
Phone: 778 873-8094
Email: stonecircle@shaw.ca

Settlement Orientation Services (SOS)
Website: http://sosbc.ca/
Provides multilingual pre-settlement and health promotion supports including providing orientation to asylum process, facilitating links to legal aid, etc.
Mona Hassannia, Manager
Phone:604-684-2561 (ext 3008)
Email: Mona.hassannia@sosbc.ca

Vancouver Association for Survivors of Torture (VAST)
Website: http://vast-vancouver.ca/
Provides psycho-social support and settlement informed trauma counselling, documentation, education and referrals.
Frank Cohn, Executive Director
Phone: 778 372 6593
Email: frank@vast-Vancouver.ca

Kinbrace Community Society
Website: http://kinbrace.ca
Welcomes refugee claimants with housing, education and support.
Loren Balisky, Executive Director
Phone: 604-803-9024
Email:loren@kinbrace.ca

ISSofBC Welcome Centre
Website: http://issbc.org/
Regional service hub for immigrants, refugees and claimants.
Chris Friesen, Director, Settlement Services
Phone:778-995-3009
Email:chris.friesen@issbc.org

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