By working with over 25 companies, organizations, and housing providers, SoulRooms wants to facilitate better discovery of housing options and offers for Ukrainians.
“We estimate close to 500 people to be able to benefit from this.”
– Arunabh Dastidar
Software company RentSync, which is also headquartered in Toronto, is one of the partners involved in the project. Through RentSync’s integrations, property units can be discovered.
“If we all come together as an industry, we can make a positive impact during an unthinkable time,” said Max Steinman, CEO of RentSync. “We hope that our clients see the urgency in this situation, and can create more availability for Ukrainians looking for a place to live when they arrive.”
SoulRooms CEO Arunabh Dastidar told BetaKit in an interview that he began working on the project within the first week of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February. As of May, Migration Data Portal estimates that there are now eight million people internally displaced within Ukraine.
Since the beginning of the year, more than 28,000 Ukrainians have arrived into Canada, according to the latest data from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. With this influx has come the challenge of finding displaced individuals homes other than Canadians simply opening their homes to individuals. A long-term, sustainable solution is needed.
When asked why he wanted to launch a program to help Ukrainian refugees find homes, Dastidar said he realized he could leverage Soulroom’s digital platform to offer support to those in need.
He launched SoulRooms in 2019 with his co-founder Gaurav Madani as a data intelligence platform for rental managers. With this technology, SoulRooms is able to connect potential renters directly to landlords. Dastidar said it is with this system that will help match Canadian landlords with Ukrainian refugees looking for properties.
“Once they come to Canadian shores, they’re on their own. Whatever we can do to help them and get right housing in Canada is great support,” Dastidar added.
Dastidar said that the initiative will be launched in three phases, with the project currently at the first step. The CEO told BetaKit that SoulRooms is now working with a number of housing providers with the aim to reach 200 properties committed to the initiative.
Secondly, SoulRooms wants to spread awareness among Ukrainian refugees that would be interested in its offering. To do this, the startup is working with two Ukrainian and Polish firms to help translate the details of SoulRooms’ project to the affected areas’ local languages.
The third phase, according to Dastidar, is sharing the success stories of all the refugees that have been housed through SoulRooms’ platform.
“We estimate close to 500 people to be able to benefit from this,” he said.
SoulRooms is among a number of Canadian organizations that are providing support for Ukrainians seeking refuge in Canada.
Another such initiative is Aman Lara’s partnership with Australian company WithYouWithMe. Aman Lara is a non-profit organization based in Canada that is focused on supporting the evacuation of vulnerable people from nations in crisis.
Aman Lara is teaming up with WithYouWithMe to launch a free app that allows Ukrainians fleeing the war to input their personal information and upload necessary documentation to expedite their arrival into Canada.
“While our country provides refuge to those in need, we became aware that the process for refugees seeking entry was complex, time consuming and stressful,” said Caleb Walker, Canada country lead for WithYouWithMe. “Creating a digital solution that would streamline this process was a small way we could help people going through an incredibly difficult journey.”
Featured image from SoulRooms’ website.