Restricted Access: The Role of Social Capital in Mitigating Absolute Homelessness among Immigrants and Refugees in the GVRD
AbstractThe housing patterns of newcomers mark a primary indicator for their successful integration. However, different groups of people have varied access to the stock of housing in Canada. The purpose of this paper is to examine the role that social capital plays in housing trajectories of immigrants with particular attention to the experiences of refugee claimants. In this paper we draw upon the results of a 2004–2005 study on the profile of absolute and relative homelessness among immigrants, refugees, and refugee claimants in the Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD). We highlight the importance of social networks in the housing careers of newcomers, and argue that access to social networks varies according to the mode of entry for immigrants (e.g., skilled immigrants vs. refugees). We find that refugee claimants are particularly vulnerable, given their combination of uncertain legal status, lack of official language ability, and unfamiliarity with Canadian society. They are the most likely of all newcomers to “fall between the cracks” of the housing system. We discuss the benefits of social capital for immigrants and refugees, especially the key role that social capital plays in the integration process.
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