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"Sorry, already rented" : a case study of the housing experiences of immigrant women in the mid-size city of Kelowna Karl, Francisca

Abstract

Upon arrival in Canada, immigrants, particularly immigrant women, are often faced with many different challenges, one of which is that of securing affordable housing. This challenge may be even more daunting for newcomers to those smaller and mid-size cities in Canada where housing costs are high and there are few long-established immigrant communities. Since very little research has been conducted on the settlement experiences of immigrant women in such cities, the purpose of this study is to examine the rental housing experiences of immigrant women in the mid-size city of Kelowna, the heart of the Okanagan Valley. More specifically, it focuses on the barriers and challenges immigrant women face when trying to find housing in one of Canada’s most expensive rental housing markets. Also examined are the strategies employed by these immigrant women in order to overcome the barriers and challenges faced in Kelowna’s rental market. Lastly this paper makes recommendations on how immigrant women’s rental housing situation can be improved. The data for this study was collected through a survey of the experiences of 32 immigrant women living in the city of Kelowna. The design of the self-administered questionnaire focused on the respondents’ rental housing experiences and the challenges and barriers they faced when looking for housing. Additional information for this study was collected by semi-structured interviews with 11 key informants who were community leaders or had expertise in settlement, housing, and government services in the city of Kelowna. The results from this study indicate that immigrant women residing in the City of Kelowna face major barriers and issues in their settlement journey to the Okanagan Valley, the rental housing search process, and their ability to afford housing. The main issues that arose from this study were rental housing affordability, low income levels, unemployment, a mismatch ! ii! between their education level and job opportunities, lack of support from social services or community organizations, and discrimination. These barriers and challenges often resulted in unproductive rental housing searches and low levels of adequate housing attainment. This study expands on the existing body of literature by emphasizing the importance of gender in the rental housing experiences of immigrant women in a mid-size city. This study adds to the literature on the housing difficulties faced by immigrant women in the rental sector. This study concludes that there is a need for more affordable housing and immigrant settlement services to incorporate all the different ethnic groups moving to Kelowna, along with a need for a more open and welcoming community in order to help minimize or eliminate the barriers and challenges faced by newcomer women.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International

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