The housing crunch is taking its toll on Canada World Youth.
Starting this month, Whitehorse will be hosting a group of 18 Canada World Youth volunteers from both Canada and Ukraine.
But they don’t have enough host families.
“I’ve confirmed six or seven families, but I need a four more,” said Simon Schachner, the project supervisor for Canada World Youth. “The group arrives Thursday and the first night they stay with their hosts is September 12.”
Schachner thought he had everything well in hand, but recently he had a few host families drop out.
“It’s definitely crunch time for this program,” he said.
This is only the third year that Whitehorse has played host to volunteers from Canada World Youth.
With such a short history in the city, Schachner can’t say if the housing shortage is the cause of the problems he’s facing, but it certainly can’t be helping, he said.
“A lot of people that have an extra room often are likely to rent it out rather than be part of a program like this, especially if they’re struggling with rent themselves,” he said. “By and large the community has been very welcoming to the program, it’s just we’re asking for three months of hosting.
“People have busy schedules and sometimes they have to accommodate a family member or a friend that needs a room, and that comes before us, which is totally understandable.”
That’s exactly what happened to Tammy Beese.
Her family has hosted Canada World Youth volunteers in the past.
“It was awesome,” she said. “We’ve always had very interesting people and we’ve always enjoyed the company.”
Beese, along with her husband Mark and two kids, has played host to both volunteers from Canada World Youth and exchange students from Yukon College.
But with housing in short supply, their spare rooms are now occupied by family members.
Both her father-in-law and her husband’s cousin are now living with them.
“It’s the housing crisis,” said Beese. “Mark’s cousin, he’s a young man with a great job, but he can’t find a place to live.”
Though she’s not playing host this year, Beese has nothing but positive things to say about her experience with Canada World Youth.
It’s has been especially good for her children, she said.
“My daughter knows how to say, ‘Can I pet your dog?’ in five different languages, and she’s an expert origami folder,” said Beese.
While they aren’t able to host any volunteers this year they did convince some friends to do it.
“They have two little kids and were seeing the experience that our kids were getting so they’re going to try it,” she said. “They’re pretty excited. They’ve been really busy preparing their room.”
The nine kids from across Canada and the Ukraine will be in Whitehorse for three months.
They’ll work at a volunteer jobs throughout the city.
Then they’ll all go to Ostroh, Ukraine where they will work on an environmental sustainability project at a local university.
The exchange program between Ostroh and Whitehorse will be happening for three more years.
“Having the same project come to Whitehorse five years in a row is a chance to build relationships with the community,” said Schachner.
As those relationships build, hopefully it will become easier to place volunteers, he said.
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