Re: Ideas to Assist Refugee Immigrants
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Wed, 22 Sep 2021 13:17:56 -0700 (PDT)
> On Sep 21, 2021, at 12:15 PM, Robin <robin7500 [at]> wrote:
> 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.

We have never hosted a refugee person or family and suggestions we do so have 
met with astounded blusterings from certain quarters. Based on their objections 
and our general experience with all kinds of house trades, foreign guests, and 
people just showing up to hang out I suggest the following:

1. Certainly work with an agency so you know who you are hosting — language 
skills, number of people, related/unrelated, expected length of stay, any 
special needs, etc. In other words only take on needs that you feel you can 

2. Have a specific host identified to take questions from guests, find needed 
services, moderate scuffles, etc. Some one has to be in charge. The people you 
are helping will probably need simple clarity and security more than anything 

3. Ensure that you know who to contact if there are problems — the refugees 
turn out to be terrorists or not from the country they claim or have illnesses, 
etc. People who take foreign students have networks, for example, so if a 
student doesn’t fit one household they can often be traded with another.

4. Clarify cultural expectations. They may not understand that they can do this 
or that because it was prohibited at home. Or that they shouldn’t do this or 
that because people here don’t like it. Some people will feel constrained and 
fearful. And others will make you feel constrained and fearful.

5. Anticipate needs and project long term. 

Of course all of this is difficult to know and certainly to figure out in an 
emergency, but ….

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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