Fund Partners with United Way Greater Toronto to Support African Refugees and Asylum Seekers

Wednesday September 20, 2023

In Toronto, the escalating housing crisis and gaps in federal funding have led to the city’s shelters reaching and even exceeding capacity. As a result, many recent refugees and asylum seekers have had to sleep on the city streets. While the allocation of federal and city funding is being figured out, there is an urgent need to provide these new arrivals with basic resources, like food and shelter. 

To address these critical challenges, United Way Greater Toronto recently launched the African Resettlement Emergency Fund, a pooled funding initiative set up to support the leadership of Black-led and Black-serving community service organizations working directly with African asylum seekers across the Greater Toronto Area. The WES Mariam Assefa Fund is excited to have made a $100,000 grant to support this initiative, which is addressing the asylum seekers’ immediate needs as well as seeking to effect long-term, sustainable change. 

Last week, through its resettlement fund, United Way Greater Toronto announced over $415,000 in funding to 42 organizations.  

With this funding, the grantee organizations will help the sector take action to support the region’s newcomers through a wide range of programming, including access to food, housing, and health services. Grant recipients include the Peel Multicultural Council and its program to improve refugee well-being, the Dixie Bloor Neighbourhood Drop-in Centre providing “Hotels, Housing, and Hope,” the Kenyan Canadian Association’s Emergency Food Support for Asylum Seekers from East Africa program, and ANCHOR Canada’s refugee assistance program, which has been working with refugee claimants in York Region.  

“United Way Greater Toronto is responding to a crisis unfolding in Toronto and the GTA, ensuring that asylum seekers can access essential services, opportunities, and resources. The WES Mariam Assefa Fund is proud to support the African Resettlement Fund as it aligns with our goals of ensuring immigrants and refugees can access equitable opportunity, and that we can shift power and funding to organizations that are led by people from immigrant and Black communities themselves,“ says Marina Nuri, the Fund’s director of Canada programs and strategy.  

“We are seeing a complex and growing human tragedy across Peel, Toronto, and York Region. The African Resettlement Emergency Fund is United Way Greater Toronto rising to meet a moment of need. Since announcing the fund last month we’ve moved quickly to ensure resources were directed to a strong, coordinated community network working to deliver support and programming. If the GTA is going to be a welcoming place for all, we know that this will be only the first step to stabilize what is becoming a significant regional issue,” says Daniele Zanotti, president and CEO of United Way Greater Toronto.  

United Way Greater Toronto works to fight local poverty by connecting businesses, governments, organizations, and residents; by advocating policy change; and by issuing grants to a network of agencies that support people in need. The organization has previously worked closely with local governments to assist the settlement of newcomers to the Toronto area, Peel, and York, with a recent focus on refugees from Afghanistan and Ukraine. Now this emergency fund is advancing an impactful effort to assist African refugees and asylees. 

Read more for the full list of grant recipients of the African Resettlement Emergency Fund. 


Stay in Touch

Thank you for your interest in the WES Mariam Assefa Fund. We’ll share updates on the Fund’s efforts, what we’re learning, and opportunities through our email list.