The refugee and asylum crisis


Network of agencies

In the summer of 2023, news headlines covered a growing human tragedy as it unfolded on the streets of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). With an overburdened shelter system and sector unable to meet the urgent needs of African refugee claimants and asylum seekers, people in search of safety found themselves homeless instead. United Way swung into action: setting up the African Resettlement Emergency Fund, raising over $500,000 and getting resources into the hands of Black-led and Black-serving groups managing more than 40 projects on the frontlines. All in record time. All made possible because of our extensive experience supporting other groups of refugees across the region. And all an example of the kind of community solution our network of 300+ agencies is capable of providing. As the largest non-government funder of community services in the GTA, United Way Greater Toronto continues to strengthen this shared safety net, one that is increasingly diverse and providing culturally appropriate services — with 25% of agencies led by, focused on and serving equity-deserving groups.

A group of people sitting down watching a presentation

We are still supporting this vulnerable population, working with the African Refugee Collaborative, under the leadership of Margaret's Housing and Community Support Services at the Black Community Housing Action Table, and tapping Caribbean African Canadian Social Services (CAFCAN) to provide wrap-around supports. With an eye to the future, together with the City of Toronto, Region of Peel and Regional Municipality of York, we're also mapping the journey of these asylum seekers, to identify and address gaps in access to social and health services.

And we are building on the success of COSTI Immigrant Service's Housing Host Program, which has matched Ukrainian newcomers with volunteers offering accommodation and other settlement assistance. We're looking to expand this initiative to support other refugee populations in the GTA.

A group of women smiling at the camera

More on how our network meets needs and impacts lives:

0immigrants and refugees
received support to connect with others, the community or needed services.
accessed nutritious and culturally relevant food.
1.8people reached
experiencing homelessness obtained emergency and/or respite shelter.
gained the tools and resources to effectively manage mental health or addictions challenges.