A York charity which helps support Ukrainian refugees has put out an urgent appeal for new host families in the city – and for landlords willing to accept Ukrainian tenants.

Rebecca Russell of York City of Sanctuary says the city is facing a ‘crisis’ as many of the 350-or-so Ukrainian refugees who fled to York last year – the vast majority of them women and children - are coming to the end of their six month or year-long arrangements with their original host families.

They will soon be looking for somewhere else in the city to live – and at the moment there is nowhere for them to go, Rebecca said.

'Although we have helped a number of families and individuals into rental accommodation or found new sponsors, we are running out of options as the numbers grow," she said.

She said the situation was reaching a ‘homeless crisis point’ in York. “We need help now!” she said.

Rebecca said when the first Ukrainian refugees came over, no-one had expected the war in Ukraine to last this long.

A year on, some host families who originally took in refugees can no longer keep them, she said.

But with private rents in York so high, and housing stock low, Ukrainian refugees on universal credit or low wages simply cannot compete for private rented accommodation with locals earning good salaries.

“They don’t stand a chance!” Rebecca said.


Today’s appeal is for both new ‘host’ families willing to take Ukrainians into their own homes for six months or a year, and for private landlords with a flat to rent out, which they would be willing to let to a Ukrainian family at or near the social housing rental rate.

As an incentive to potential host families, hosts receive £450 a month from the government to take Ukrainians into their homes – or £500 a month if the refugees have already been here a year.

They could also ask the refugees to contribute a reasonable amount towards bills, Rebecca said. “That could be a big help with the cost of living!”

But Rebecca said there was also a desperate need for private landlords willing to offer Ukrainian refugees a flat of their own.

Many of the refugees who came here last year – some single women, others mothers with children – have begun to settle in York.

Their children are going to local schools, and they themselves are starting to find work.

But having a place to call their own would make a huge difference, Rebecca said.

“These are families who have already been through so much. They have been forced, because of war, to leave their homes, their jobs, their families.

“Many have left their husbands, fathers and brothers behind, to come to a new country.

“Many never expected to be here this long.

“We can’t imagine what they have been through. Many of them don’t know where they might end up once their current arrangements come to an end. So please, if you can help, do get in touch.”

To register as a host family, visit https://forms.office.com/e/Wug8Q6x4Y9

If you are a landlord with a flat that you could offer to a Ukrainian family, email: rebecca@yorkcos.org.uk

Some Ukrainians looking to move into a private rented flat may qualify for financial help from the council, Rebecca said. "A financial assessment is done and if passed, some central funds can be made available.”

'They have been great tenants'

A year ago Martina Weitsch and her partner Liz Scurfield rented out a house in Hull Road to a family from Ukraine.

They have never once regretted it, Martina said.

Liudmyla Ivasiuk and her two daughters Yuliia, 17, and Veronica, 10, had fled their home and lives in Kyiv early in the war as a Russian column advanced on the city.

York Press: Yuliia, left, Liudmyla and Veronica Ivasiuk outside their rented home off Hull RoadYuliia, left, Liudmyla and Veronica Ivasiuk outside their rented home off Hull Road (Image: Stephen Lewis)

Liudmyla left behind her husband Volodymyr, and a successful career as a dentist.

In York, they stayed with a relative for four months – until York City of Sanctuary put them in touch with Martina and Liz.

They moved into the Hull Road property in August last year – and told The Press that having somewhere to call their own had made a huge difference. “It's nice to have my own space,” Yuliia said. “I can do all the things I want, now."

Martina said having the family as tenants had been a pleasure.

The children have now both settled into school in York, and Liudmyla has found a job as a dental nurse.

“They have been really good tenants,” Martina said.

They have even become friends, she added. “We see them regularly. We help them with their English a bit – and we have learned so much about Ukraine.”

Labour’s Executive Member for Housing on City of York Council, Cllr Michael Pavlovic, said the council was offering what support it could to help get Ukrainian families into private rented accommodation.

But more rented accommodation was badly needed, he said.

“We hope landlords will support those who, as a consequence of Putin’s illegal war, find themselves here having had no choice but to leave Ukraine,” he said.