Re: Ideas to Assist Refugee Immigrants
From: Pare Gerou (paregerougmail.com)
Date: Wed, 22 Sep 2021 13:39:39 -0700 (PDT)
Hi Robin,

I directed a refugee resettlement agency of the kind you likely contacted
and also processed refugees overseas for resettlement, among other things.
Refugees ideally need longer term housing when they arrive rather than very
short term housing.  The agencies tend to choose complexes and units and
keep them available for long term stays.  It is not a good idea to use a
commonly owned Common House for a family starting from absolute scratch in
another country in my opinion.

It may be unattainable, but our forming group, Greek Village Cohousing, is
attempting to fundraise to purchase a unit for a refugee family.  Another
option is to see if all of you can contribute and pay a refugee family's
rent for a year, but that is only a good idea if it is a family who has the
capacity via education, languages, and skills to continue to live there
once they must pay on their own- otherwise children have to switch schools,
etc.  The agency will tell you what their volunteer options are and how
they handle housing. However, If you choose Church World Service or
Lutheran Immigration Refugee Services, then your cohousing community can
become a "sponsor" to a refugee family.  If your group chooses to be a
sponsor, you have an obligation through the agency to be the support system
for a period of time.  After that period of time, you will continue to feel
responsible and need to help for possibly the rest of your life and that of
the refugees. Some people walk away after a period, but most do not.  I
still routinely help people I resettled 20 years ago, even after I left the
directorship and agency.  It can be an extremely meaningful experience, but
it is a big responsibility.  You are welcome to email me directly at
paregerou [at] gmail.com, but the agency will have a system of volunteerism and
support, and those systems vary considerably from city to city, so another
cohousing community does not necessarily have the same experience or
options you do.  You might also consider that some of the Iraqi and Syrian
refugees waiting for over 5 in Turkey are just now starting to be processed
as refugees through P2 relative petition categories and do not have as much
agency support when they arrive.
-Pare Gerou

On Tue, Sep 21, 2021 at 7:16 PM Robin <robin7500 [at] gmail.com> wrote:

> My cohousing community has been meeting about how we might help one or more
> Afghan refugee families. Our Common House has a bedroom, bathroom and a
> large open room upstairs along with a kitchen/dining area that is not being
> currently used due to the pandemic. It's not quite ideal, but some of us
> have thought it might be used temporarily for several weeks at a time until
> a family can be in permanent housing.
> We have contacted local refugee resettlement organizations as well.
>
> I wonder if any cohousing community has used their facility in this way and
> if so, what were some of the issues you experienced as well as the positive
> benefits to the family and your community. Or if your cohousing has reached
> out in another way either just raising funds, buying groceries or
> furnishing an apartment elsewhere I'd appreciate heating about it.
> *Robin Barth*
> *Eno Commons*
> *Durham, NC*
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