Finding a place to stay is getting easier for immigrants coming to the North Okanagan for work.
Those moving to the area from around the world for permanent work through the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP) now have access to a new website, happipad.com/rnip, to obtain accommodation while they settle into the community.
The North Okanagan Cultural Homestay Program has been created through an innovative partnership between Happipad and Community Futures North Okanagan and Social Planning Council for the North Okanagan with support from the Local Immigration Partnership Council and the Vernon & District Immigrant and Community Services Society (VDICSS).
Homeowners with extra room in their home can join the platform to connect with newcomers through this or other Happipad home share programs.
A simple application form will get homeowners connected with an intake professional who will help match homes to people seeking accommodation.
RNIP is a pilot of the Federal Government designed to spread the benefits of economic immigration to smaller communities by creating a path to permanent residence for skilled foreign workers and their families. RNIP immigrants have been offered full-time permanent employment in our community in a variety of occupations.
“This website addresses a growing need for employers who are attracting new talent to our communities,” said Community Futures executive director Leigha Horsfield, also RNIP manager. “Housing is a significant part of addressing our growing labour force needs.”
The pilot area includes Vernon, Armstrong, Enderby, Lumby and Lake Country.
The new North Okanagan online platform, created by Happipad, can enrol as many homeowners as want to participate. A variety of home options will be needed for individuals, couples, and families. Ideally homes should offer a shared or separate kitchen area and bathroom as well as a private bedroom.
The program offers an added benefit to newcomers, as explained by Philipp Gruner, VDICSS interim executive director: “Newcomers are often at a disadvantage when looking for housing on arrival to Canada as they do not have an established tenancy record here. This collaboration is beneficial to both newcomers and their hosts: it gives local residents an opportunity to open up their homes and participate in cultural exchange while helping immigrants gain first rental references in Canada.”
Homeowners set their own price working with Happipad which also manages the monthly rent transactions between the two parties. As a home-sharing option, the rental tenancy laws do not apply; however, both homeowners and homestay guests will sign an agreement through Happipad.