To Winnipeg is important in understanding different housing situations,

To address the housing circumstances and
understand the resettlement and integration process of the refugees in the
inner city area of Winnipeg, a three year-long study was conducted from 2006 to
2008. It is specifically stated by the authors of this study that focusing on a
smaller city like Winnipeg is important in understanding different housing
situations, since most of the refugee housing oriented research in Canada is
being done in cities like Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal.  It is argued that while housing expectations
of the refugees will mostly be met, due to the Aboriginals who are also trying
to find housing in the same area, and the declining characteristics of the neighborhood,
they will face difficulties in the resettlement process (Carter & Osborne,
2009).

The methodologies used in the study
includes personal interviews, literature review, housing market analysis, and
Statistics Canada analysis. It is important to note that, personal interviews
with the refugees are the main starting point of the research, and they
provided valuable information regarding refugees in different circumstances in
a three-year period, their housing needs and challenges, moving reasons, incomes
and housing costs, their responses to the neighborhood characteristics, as well
as information about the dwellings that they currently live in.

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Since almost all the refugees, most of
them being from Africa and the Middle East, had been in refugee camps before
for many years, they had been exposed to extreme trauma, which caused many
physical and mental health problems to occur (Carter & Osborne, 2009). When
combined with the discrimination they encounter for being a “visible minority”
it is clear how much difficulty they had to endure to find suitable housing
conditions. Lack of education, expertise and language skills of the refugees
often led to their poverty and inability to find housing due to high
unemployment (CMHC, 2004a; Carter, Polevychok, Friesen, & Osborne, 2008).
However, it is mentioned that while the study was being conducted, the state of
refugees in terms of labor has improved over time (Carter & Osborne, 2009).

According to the collected data, it is
stated that by the third year, number of refugees who are paying %30 or more of
their income for rent has declined (Statistics Canada, 2008). An improvement in
the income levels and the decision of almost half of the refugees moving into
social housing had resulted in the rental costs being reduced. However, an
improvement of the financial status had its drawbacks in the accommodation
conditions. Cheaper housing meant a decrease in quality and crowded living
conditions in smaller units (Carter & Osborne, 2009). On the other hand, it
is interesting to notice that due to these poor conditions, most of the
refugees were content and satisfied with their houses according to the study.
This mostly had to do with improvements in the design related issued in the
dwellings and several utilities that are introduced over the period of the
study.

Even though many difficulties the refugees
face in resettlement and housing search, the study shows that there have been
significant improvements in employment status and salaries, housing cost
problems and affordability (Carter & Osborne, 2009). However, in similar
studies made in Toronto (Murdie, 2005), Vancouver (Chan et al., 2005), Edmonton
(Chera, 2004), and Montreal (Rose & Ray, 2001), many refugees had to spend
more than half of their income on rent and that they were not satisfied with
the housing conditions in Canada. Most of them had to make compromises in their
other needs to compensate for the rent.

Neighborhood characteristics of the inner
city area is also as much important as the housing conditions themselves. This
is expected to affect the housing choices of the refugees which are not that
many to begin with. Their lack of knowledge in tenant rights and
responsibilities and their poor language skills make matters worse and more
difficult for them to find affordable houses in suitable neighborhoods.
According to the study, many buildings located in the inner city were built at
the end of 19th century, consequently many of these now abandoned
buildings are not suitable for occupancy due to safety reasons (Carter &
McGregor, 2006). Although refugees find advantages in living in the inner city
like being close to amenities and public transportation, in the last two years
of the study most of them were inclined to live in non-inner city regions due to
safety and security related issues (Carter & Osborne, 2009).

Another important aspect mentioned is the
fact that Aboriginals also migrate to the city, and the ones living in the
inner city areas tend to have similarities with the refugees in terms of poverty,
low levels of education and overpopulation in the dwellings. This creates a
more competitive situation in the housing market and makes it even harder for
the refugees to find affordable housing.

The lack of public interference in
affordable housing market has been a major issue since most of the refugees
face the difficulty of finding private rental and social housing (Carter et
al., 2008; Wayland, 2007). It is seen vital that a more temporary housing
solution as a transitional process would help the refugees in their
resettlement, which they would recognize as a safe place right after they
arrive (Carter & Osborne, 2009). The study also points out the lack of an
organization which would provide the refugees with useful information regarding
several information about their rights, housing options and neighborhood
characteristics. This would make a positive impact on their transition process
in resettlement, adaptation to the community, their ability to make educated
choices in their housing needs. Moreover, education and raising awareness
towards the newcomer population as a support and acceptance by the community is
also a key element to consider (Carter & Osborne, 2009).