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Barriers to immigrants seeking housing in a mid-sized city : a case study of visible minorities in Kelowna's housing market Oh, John Doo Jin


In trying to settle in Canadian cities, one of the many challenges faced by immigrants—particularly visible minorities—is difficulty finding housing. This may be especially true in mid-sized cities where little is known about the settlement experience of immigrants. The purpose of this study is to examine the housing experiences of visible minority immigrants in the mid-sized city of Kelowna, British Columbia. In particular, it focuses on the challenges and barriers visible minority immigrants face in one of Canada’s most expensive housing markets. The role of race as a factor in the housing experience of these immigrants is also examined. The study also looks at strategies immigrants use to cope with housing barriers and makes recommendations on how their housing situation can be improved. Data for this study was obtained from a questionnaire survey administered to 30 visible minority immigrants in the city of Kelowna. The questionnaire survey focused on the respondents’ housing experiences and on the challenges, such as discrimination, that they faced. In addition to the survey, supplementary data was obtained from semi-structured interviews with 10 key informants in Kelowna. Results from the study indicate that visible minority immigrants in the mid-sized city of Kelowna are experiencing severe difficulties in their housing searches and, ultimately, in their settlement process. The main housing barriers and challenges uncovered by this study were affordability, discrimination, and a lack of service support from social networks or community organizations. These factors often resulted in the respondents’ housing search process and their attainment of adequate housing being hindered or prevented. This study expands on the existing literature by emphasizing the importance of race in the housing experience of visible minority immigrants in a mid-sized city. In concurrence with other major Canadian studies, this study reiterates the notion that immigrants, especially visible minorities, are experiencing various challenges and barriers in the housing search process. Recommendations from this study conclude that there is a need for more social support in the form of affordable housing, and immigrant settlement services, and the need for a more welcoming community to help alleviate these barriers.

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