Island Ukrainian Refugees in Urgent Need of Housing

Islander generosity called on to help Ukrainians in need

Numbers have soared recently, with 61 Ukrainian refugees arriving just last week

The number of Ukrainian refugees hitting the Island every week has soared recently.

Since the beginning of Russia’s invasion this time last year, Islanders have been doing a great job of meeting the demand for those needing shelter.

They’ve offered up spare bedrooms, AirBnb’s, and vacation homes to those in need.

But recently, the demand for refugee housing on the Island has outgrown supply.

Karmen McNamara of Help Ukraine Vancouver Island told the Times Colonist that what was before an average of 10 refugees arriving weekly, has jumped to about 40 new people per week.

Last week alone 61 refugees arrived. On Friday volunteers had to twice break the news that there was nowhere for them to go.

They could only offer to cover 48 hours in a hotel, before they would again have to look for alternative options.

“Where can they go after two days?” McNamara asked. “What do you do to help an 80-year-old woman who comes to you desperate for shelter?”

That’s why McNamara and other volunteers are making an “urgent plea” to anyone who may have space open to those fleeing the war.

It takes less space than you’d think to house someone.

Most people get here with only a backpack or a small suitcase, she said.

If you have a bit more time and energy to give, there are also some situations where minors are travelling alone, so finding them caring spaces is a priority.

The most important thing is simply keeping newcomers from having to sleep on the streets, she said.

There has been no room in area shelter facilities, McNamara said.

If you think you could potentially host someone, even on an emergency or short term basis, head to the group’s website at to help.

Donations are also appreciated. You can send them via e-transfer to or by credit card or cheque.