For years now we have been struggling with the problem of when/where/how to place newly arrived refugees, immigrants, and asylees into apartments in the city. Many are newly arrived and really don’t understand the rights and responsibilities of being a tenant and some landlords may take advantage of this, much to the detriment of the tenant. Let us be clear, we are not saying all landlords are not nice, but over the years we have met a few who aren’t and it always costs the tenant.
We have often thought of buying a three-family house and renting it out to refugees when they first arrive. This way they could rent somewhat below market rents to make expenses more manageable, and we could provide training on what it means to live as a tenant in America. Although this is a real ongoing problem, we always knew that for our little ministry it was the “impossible dream.” That is until a donor came along who had the same idea and now our dream and his are becoming a reality, albeit slowly.
We will now be able to offer a three year housing program to newly arrived refugee, immigrant or asylee families. This program offers reduced rents for the period of their stay as long as they participate in the various training programs we will be offering, so they can familiarize themselves with living in America, the rights and obligations they have as tenants, financial management, and how to purchase a home of their own or how to find another rental apartment.
We are just in the planning and agreement phase right now, but are hopeful that we will have a house within a year. It all depends on how fast the lawyers and real estate dealers can move things along. We are calling this program the Saint Stephen’s housing initiative. So keep those prayers coming, I think we are going to need them.