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Pathways to Pacifica for Newcomers

With a vacancy rate of .07% and rental costs continuing to rise, individuals and families across Southern Vancouver Island are struggling to find housing. New members of our community are hit particularly hard by the housing crisis. Often enough, they experience language barriers, discrimination, and a host of other challenges adjusting to a new country, community and culture.

Since 2016, Pacifica has housed an increasing number of refugee families, many of whom have escaped conflict in Syria. One of these families includes Faten Hamsho, her husband Mohamad Dib Hamsho Kaba, and their children. When Faten first arrived in Victoria, they were living in a house in Sidney paying $1,500 each month in rent. The location was a long commute to school and the community by bus, and the high cost of housing required Mohamad to find work despite having a heart condition. After connecting with the Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre Society (VIRCS), the family found a safe, permanent, and more affordable place to live through Pacifica.

Pacifica Housing is one of the largest providers of affordable housing on Vancouver Island. We house more than 1700 people in 37 properties across Greater Victoria, Duncan and Nanaimo. The types of housing we provide include subsidized family housing, with rents geared to 30% of a tenant’s income; affordable market housing where tenants pay 80% to 90% of market rate and market housing, with rents are in line with the current rental market.

People usually connect with us by dropping into our office at 827 Fisgard St., or at our Downtown Outreach Services at 826 Cormorant St. For any newcomer families that are looking for subsidized family housing, the first step is to fill out an application with the BC Housing Registry. The waitlist for subsidized housing is long, and it can take years for families to find housing. However, applications for our reduced market properties are generally processed faster with shorter wait lists.

As seen in Faten’s story, we receive referrals from VIRCS, the Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria (ICA), and the Anglican Diocese of BC. “We enjoy working with our community partners in the immigrant and refugee settlement field, and take seriously our role in providing housing in an inclusive and culturally sensitive way,” says Colleen Cybulski, Pacifica’s Director of Property Services.

Our staff members are trained to work with clientele that come from different cultural places and backgrounds. At Pacifica, we have partnered with the ICA to offer diversity training for our staff, and became the first housing agency in Victoria to participate in the Google We-Speak Translate project. Our ongoing partnership with Royal Roads University provides opportunities for International Students to volunteer at various Pacifica events and become part of our family. Providing a local response to global issues is important to us, and we want to provide the most accessible services we can to our growing and increasingly diverse community.

Learn more: Web: Phone: 250-385-2131