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‘Desperate’ need for immediate refugee housing: Okanagan not-for-profit calls for help

Twenty two Ukrainian families are arriving in the Okanagan before the end of February
Anika and Ivan Kyrychenko and family after arriving in Kelowna. Host Pam Morgan with volunteer greeters from Kelowna Stands With Ukraine. (Cindy Fairs/Kelowna Stands With Ukraine)

There is a desperate need for hosts to support 22 Ukrainian refugee families coming to Kelowna in the coming weeks.

Almost everyday more requests from people attempting to flee the war-torn country pile up in the inbox of Kelowna Stands with Ukraine’s housing coordinator, Cindy Fairs.

Right now, “there is an insurmountable number of requests,” said Fairs.

She is working around the clock to try and place refugees in safe host homes in the Okanagan. However, after finding accommodation for more than 79 families since the Russian invasion, she is running out of options and may have to start turning people away.

Approximately 500 Ukrainians have settled into the Okanagan over the past year, arriving by private sponsorship or through a variety of organizations, including Kelowna Stands with Ukraine.

Fairs fears that she may have to start saying no to families looking to escape the war.

READ MORE: More than 100 happy children on Christmas thanks to Kelowna charity for Ukrainian refugees

Until now, Fairs has not had to turn anyone away, and has found accommodation for even the most unique situations. One couple arrived in Kelowna while 8 months pregnant. Fairs found housing for the expectant parents in Merritt that had quiet spaces and room for the family to spend time with their new baby.

She is currently looking for 22 homes in the Okanagan that can take in anywhere from one to eight people for a couple of weeks to a year. Each host can pre-determine what they are able to offer. Some hosts only offer their home as an emergency shelter for people who arrive unannounced or without pre-arranged housing.

Both the host and refugee families are screened and houses are vetted before being matched up, said Fairs. She has people fill out an extensive questionnaire and complete a background check before being approved.

Kelowna Stands with Ukraine also holds a free store where newcomers can access houseware, in addition to a free bike program and English classes.

People wanting to donate to the Kelowna Stands with Ukraine free store or bike program can call 1(236)471-9922.

Those who are able to host are encouraged to contact Cindy Fairs at 1(250)718-4377 or by email at

READ MORE: Ukrainian city humming with generators, thanks to Kelowna contribution


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Jacqueline Gelineau

About the Author: Jacqueline Gelineau

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