Congolese refugee family facing eviction in San Antonio
Posted by Christopher Coen on July 15, 2012
***UPDATE*** — July 21, 2012 — San Antonio Express News readers take in refugee family
A Congolese refugee woman and her seven kids have found themselves on the precipice of eviction ten months after resettlement in San Antonio. She claims assistance from Catholic Charities, Archdioceses of San Antonio Inc. was spotty at best and didn’t address the special hurdles she faces. In the past ten months a caseworker from the agency met with her only once in person to discuss job prospects, and took her to apply for one cleaning job. Yet, recently she got a hotel housekeeping job — through a refugee friend. An article at the San Antonio Express-News has more:
[Leonia Espe] and her seven surviving children escaped [her village in east Congo]…
…Four years later, they were resettled to the United States, landing last September in a shabby, three-bedroom flat on the city’s North Side under the auspices of Catholic Charities, Archdioceses of San Antonio Inc.
As is policy, Espe received pocket cash and rental assistance for up to six months. The agency gives $1,125 per family member; smaller families get less.
She was able to pay her rent through April and is now two months in arrears. A judge decided on Thursday that the apartment can evict her and her children, in five days.
Espe, whose youngest child is 4, suffers from peptic ulcers and a heart condition and speaks little English.
She wasn’t able to find a job during the six months an agency caseworker was assigned to work one on one with her, assistance that was spotty at best and didn’t address the special hurdles she faces, she claims…
…Pamela Raines, director of development for Catholic Charities, said the record shows Espe attended five weeks of job-training classes, something the client denies. (The refugee staff was at a conference and couldn’t be contacted, said Raines.)
Espe said she did take some of the agency’s English classes but had to miss often because of sickness, her own or one of her children’s.
Raines said the agency had “consistent contact” with Espe during the six months of direct help and that she didn’t show up for several employment-related appointments, something Espe also denies.
According to Raines’ record and Espe’s memory, a caseworker met with her only once in person to discuss job prospects in late spring or early summer. Faida, 17, the eldest daughter, said the same caseworker took her to a local office building to apply for a cleaning job.
“But that was two months ago and no one has called,” she said. “It feels scary. I don’t have any hope.”
Akhahenda said he and Espe paid a visit to her case manager in early June, after she had received her second notice of past-due rent from the apartment.
“He said to me, ‘Don’t worry, we won’t let her be evicted,’” Akhahenda recalled. “He said they would find her alternative housing.”
Then he didn’t hear anything more, he said…
Recently Espe got a job through a refugee friend…A hotel housekeeping job… Read more here