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Sleeping on the margins : the role of social capital in the housing patterns of refugee claimants in the Greater Vancouver Regional District D’Addario, Silvia

Abstract

Immigrants, especially those who are visible minorities, are at a socio-economic disadvantage upon arrival relative to their Canadian-born counterparts. Refugee claimants face additional barriers upon arrival owing to their specific mode of entry. These compounded obstacles hamper the search for safe and affordable housing for claimants, and places them at a high risk of relative homelessness. This thesis examines the housing patterns of refugee claimants in the Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD) by analyzing the residential trajectories of thirty-six refugee claimants. I, furthermore, analyze the recent literature that focuses on the settlement patterns of claimants in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver in order to facilitate a wider discussion on the settlement needs of this particular group. In so doing, I explore various themes, such as affordability, adequacy and safety, which are consistent issues for claimants across Canada. This thesis argues that for many claimants, hidden homelessness is an inevitable part of their settlement. This study moves forward to question why, given their socioeconomic disadvantage over the average Canadian-born and other immigrants, are claimants not finding themselves in absolute homelessness -living on the streets or in shelter system? In order to assess this, I examine theories of social capital and networks as potential resources used by recent claimants in order to offset barriers related to their immigration status and escape the worst forms of homelessness.

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