The high cost of Vancouver housing is slowing efforts to find permanent places for newly arrived Syrian refugees to live, forcing a five-day delay to settlement efforts, agencies said.

Only a small number of the 750 refugees now staying in six hotels have been moved out to permanent lodging, which has created a back-up, said Chris Friesen of the Immigrant Services Society of B.C.

“We’ve asked for and received a pause for five days, starting Tuesday,” said Friesen. “We have temporary housing for 750 people. We’ve now reached that.”

The main problem is finding homes for larger families, said Tarek Ramadan of the Muslim Association of Canada. A settlement allowance of $785 a month isn’t enough to find anything for families with four children, and even smaller families can’t find anywhere to go.

“For smaller families of two children or three children we’re trying to look for townhouses, apartments, and for a three bedroom there is really nothing less than say $1,400 or $1,500 a month in Vancouver. It’s really tough,” Ramadan said.

“I don’t think any of them have been housed yet,” he said. “Some have been in the hotel for almost a month.”

In one hotel visited by CTV News, children played in the hallways as their parents minded them, or sat in a circle in the lobby talking.

One refugee, Shadi Alradi, said he had been living in the hotel for three weeks with his wife and one-year-old daughter. His family had spent about three years in a camp in Jordan, he said.

Some of those staying in the hotel had been a victim of the pepper spray attack on Jan. 8. But despite the attack, he said the group is staying positive, and very grateful for Canada’s help.

“All the people in here thank the Canadian government. We all thank the people of Canada for all the help,” he said.