Safe Homes and Hope Amid the GTA Refugee Shelter Crisis    

August 8, 2023

Refugee Housing Canada, an initiative by Happipad in collaboration with leading resettlement organizations, aims to provide newly arrived refugees and asylum seekers with a safe and secure space through an innovative home-sharing program that connects those needing housing with compassionate homeowners willing to open their homes to them. The Northpine Foundation is funding Happipad to house 1000 refugees.

As Toronto’s pressing housing crisis for refugees and asylum seekers plays out, this initiative could be a critical piece of the solution. The city’s shelter system has been overwhelmed, with many refugees left sleeping on the streets for days amid a funding stalemate between the city and the federal government. Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow has appealed to Toronto residents last week, to offer rental units for refugees as shelter spaces fill up.

2021 data shows that 29 percent of singles and couples in Canada live in homes with three bedrooms or more, and a 2017 study found around 2.2 million empty bedrooms in Toronto alone. Against this backdrop and in the face of the affordability challenge and limited availability of rental units in the GTA, Refugee Housing Canada’s home-sharing rental program bridges the gap. It allows hosts to rent out their spare bedrooms, share kitchens and common spaces, fostering connections and community while receiving a fair and reliable monthly rental fee. 

In the ongoing situation, we found a unique opportunity not just to support refugees and asylum seekers, but also to bring an immediate solution that temporarily tackles the housing shortage and fosters an inclusive community to help create a genuine sense of welcome and belonging,” said Cailan Libby, CEO at Happipad.

The Refugee Housing Canada program allows hosts to rent out a room at a fair rate to provide accommodation to refugees and displaced persons for a couple of months or even permanently if they find a great match. Hosts can also donate the rent back to the program and receive a donation receipt. The program makes ensuring the safety and security of both hosts and refugees a priority, requiring background checks and identity verification for hosts, and allowing access to authorized refugees admitted through local resettlement organizations only. 

Happipad and the Refugee Housing Canada program extend an earnest invitation to homeowners in and around Toronto to join their home-sharing program and make a difference in the lives of refugees. For more information on Refugee Housing Canada, how to become a host, and other ways to support this initiative, please visit

By forming connections that transcend cultural barriers, refugees, homeowner hosts, and their new communities will mutually benefit and thrive.