Ukrainian evacuees are stepping off the plane at YYC — and into a tight rental market

·2 min read
Mikhailo Antoniuk and his family arrived from Ukraine two months ago. Since then, they've struggled to find a place to rent. (Paula Duhatschek/CBC - image credit)
Mikhailo Antoniuk and his family arrived from Ukraine two months ago. Since then, they've struggled to find a place to rent. (Paula Duhatschek/CBC - image credit)

In the two months since Mikhailo Antoniuk and his family arrived in Calgary from Ukraine, they've seen about 20 rental options, from townhouses to apartments.

Often, they'll show up to meet the landlord alongside 10 other would-be tenants, he said.

"They see us and other people … they pick them, [not] us," said Antoniuk, who arrived in Canada with his wife and three children. He suspects landlords don't want to take a chance on renting to a large family with no local credit history.

For Kate Bodolska, it's a similar story.

"It's so difficult when you don't have history here, like credit history or references from somebody when you are a new person, even if you don't have a job. It's very difficult," she said.

Housing is the No. 1  issue for Ukrainian evacuees arriving in Calgary after fleeing the Russian invasion, according to Yulia Gorbach.

Gorbach chairs two separate welcome committees, with St. Vladimir's Ukrainian Orthodox Sobor and with the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, and has helped evacuees make short-term arrangements with host families in Calgary and the surrounding area.

Paula Duhatschek/CBC
Paula Duhatschek/CBC

But when it comes to finding a long-term rental, newly arrived Ukrainians have a lot working against them, she said.

"It's a very difficult thing to do, to find an apartment in the first place, never mind for people without a credit history, or job or English," said Gorbach.

In its annual market report released in February, the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation said average vacancies in Calgary fell to 5.1 per cent in 2021 from 6.6 per cent in 2020 — noting the number dropped even though there was a growth in rental supply, indicating "more robust rental demand."

All of that means people like Gorbach have to work even harder, in tandem with other churches and rotary clubs, to try to make arrangements for evacuees.

She said she's also looking for landlords who are willing to take a chance.

"It's a big ask. Don't take me wrong. I completely understand," she said. "[But] all the Ukrainians want to be is the full-fledged member of society contributing, hardworking, not seen as a burden."

Paula Duhatschek/CBC
Paula Duhatschek/CBC

As for Antoniuk? He recently got a job in construction while the family lives temporarily with a host family.

He is hoping to save up enough money to make an offer a landlord can't refuse.

Bodolska has found a host family, too, but hopes more landlords understand the situation evacuees are going through.

"Now, I already have a job. So if I will come after my work to some place … and it's my home, it would be much more better," she said.

The provincial government says that as of the week of May 26, approximately 2,600 people had arrived in Alberta from Ukraine.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting