Humber’s North residence expected to house 400 refugees
Humber College’s North campus residence is being used as temporary housing for up to 400 refugee claimants.
About 400 refugees are expected to stay in the residence from June until August because the federal and provincial governments needed to relieve the pressure put on the city’s shelter system.
“The refugee claimants that are coming to Humber’s residence are coming on a staggered approach, the first group came in on Friday and subsequent arrivals will happen right through the summer,” said Andrew Leopold, Humber’s director of communications.
Humber and Centennial colleges are temporarily housing refugees, “whether it is daily or weekly, there are groups coming in at various times and various numbers,” he said.
Leopold said claimants are assigned rooms as they arrive and they are being provided with three meals a day. They can also use the facilities at the residence or within the building that they’re in, and Leopold said there is discussion about the claimants using other facilities, such as the gym.
The City of Toronto and the Canadian Red Cross have come together to support the accommodation for them. The province is covering half of the $6 million price tag for housing the claimants for 75 days.
“With respect to using the campus or being a part of the community, they can walk around the campus and take part in the community,” Leopold said.
He said one of the reasons Humber was able to participate was because of the summer session, where there are fewer students in the residence. That opened up rooms and beds for the claimants.
“The students will start to come back at the end of August, so our agreement with the city and Red Cross is that claimants would move out by Aug. 9. This would give us time to prepare for the students arriving,” Leopold said.
“There has been a positive reaction to the claimants who are arriving, and a lot of offers have come in from other schools and departments to offer services, for example, teaching English or use of the athletic facilities, all of that will be looked at,” he said. “We’re focused right now on getting the refugee claimants who are arriving daily, and getting them settled.”
“The process of refugees arriving at Humber is going as planned and reaction has been positive,” Leopold said. “The students have also been quite positive about it.”
The city’s Office of Emergency Management announced on May 23 it would need to house refugees in community centres and other municipal buildings. The city is also renting hotel rooms for families who can’t be placed in its shelter system.
Last Friday, Mayor John Tory said the city would have to take emergency measures if the governments didn’t act to relieve the pressure put on the city’s shelter system.
Deepti Saxena, a student living in Humber’s residence, said it is kind of authorities to take on the responsibility and shelter the refugees.
“As students would be away for summer, the beds and rooms are given to these claimants and we see them using the cafeteria as well, which is great,” Saxena said.