Friends of Refugees

A U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program Watchdog Group

Archive for the ‘Ohio’ Category

Community Refugee and Immigration Services Center in Ohio burglarized

Posted by Christopher Coen on June 18, 2013

burlarized

Thieves broke in and burglarized the offices of Community Refugee and Immigration Services Center in Columbus last week, according to an article and video at 10TV: This is the resettlement agency that placed refugees in a horrible apartment complex for years before being caught my the media.

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Workers discovered a shattered door and missing computers at the Community Refugee and Immigration Services Center on Sinclair Road.

According to the police report, workers said that the break-in happened Sunday night and caused hundreds of dollars in damage.

It was unknown if security cameras captured the crime. Read article at source here

Posted in Columbus, Community Refugee and Immigration Services (CRIS), Community Refugee and Immigration Services (CRIS) | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Columbus apartment complex where resettlement agencies placed refugees riddled with problems

Posted by Christopher Coen on April 23, 2013

code

An apartment complex in Columbus where refugee resettlement agencies placed refugees because of low rental rates is riddled with 63 code violations. A Nepali-Bhutanese refugee who lives in a unit with his family says his unit was plagued with bedbugs last year and said he was worried about his family’s safety. Another Nepali-Bhutanese refugee said the staircases are broken and lights don’t work. Community Refugee and Immigration Services and World Relief Columbus stopped placing refugees in the complex after last year’s fire publicity, but have not evacuated the other refugees to better housing despite the extensive code violations. The units are poorly maintained, have bedbugs and roaches, leaky and defective plumbing and electrical problems, according to an inspection report. I think this case case shows the wisdom of placing refugees only according to rental unit prices while ignoring basic safety, repair and habitability issues which, by the way, are violations of the State Department refugee contracts. Will the State Department be taking any action against its refugee contractors in Columbus? I’ll believe it when I see it. An article in The Columbus Dispatch has the details of this story:

Columbus prosecutors say that a North Side apartment complex that rents to scores of refugees is riddled with code violations that owners have ignored for months.

Prosecutors filed a complaint yesterday with Franklin County Environmental Court against Summit Park Apartments. The complaint says a code-enforcement inspector has found 63 violations since September.

The inspection report said multiple units were poorly maintained, had bedbugs and roaches, leaky and defective plumbing and electrical problems…

In three inspections since November, building inspectors found wooden balconies that had deteriorated to the point that they were unsafe. The inspections also determined that concrete and steel balconies there must be evaluated and repaired…

In August, families from Bhutan, Somalia and other countries were displaced after fire ravaged one of the buildings, at 4349 Walford St. The fire started in a fenced-in storage area that had been filled with furniture.

Fire investigators said it was arson. At least two refugee agencies, , have not placed anyone at the complex since then.

They still had code violations that hadn’t got taken care of that got worse after the fire,” said Kay Lipovsky, office manager for World Relief Columbus.

Agencies place refugees at complexes such as Summit Park because rents are inexpensive, she said.

One resident, Yam Subba, a Bhutanese Nepali refugee who lives in a unit with his wife, their 2-year-old daughter and his mother, said his unit was plagued with bedbugs last year. Subba, 28, said he was worried about his family’s safety.

Another Bhutanese Nepali refugee, Moti Rai, who lives in a unit with his father, said the staircases are broken and lights don’t work. Still, Rai, 27, said he lived in a small hut in a refugee camp in Bhutan. “I think this is better than that.”… Read more here

Posted in apartment building fires, bed bugs, Columbus, Community Refugee and Immigration Services (CRIS), Community Refugee and Immigration Services (CRIS), housing, housing, substandard, Nepali Bhutanese, safety, World Relief | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Chin refugees congregate in Indianapolis and Columbus

Posted by Christopher Coen on November 12, 2012

Columbus, Ohio

Indianapolis has become a major hub for Chin refugees from Myanmar. Now, Chin refugees are also making Columbus a favored destination for settlement. Chin has more than 40 dialects, which can make it difficult for schools and agencies to find interpreters. Although in this case it is the Lai Chin who are settling in Columbus’ Far West Side. An article in The Columbus Dispatch explains:

…during a visit to Columbus, Hai Vung Lian was impressed with what he saw. With more research, he discovered that the city — particularly the Far West Side — had a lot to offer his countrymen and women who needed a home: a steady job market and affordable housing near good schools, public transportation and hospitals.

I thought we could start a community here,” Lian, 47, said of the Chin population, who have fled the southern Asian country of Myanmar, also known as Burma.

He encouraged Chin families living in refugee settlements outside Myanmar to start anew in Columbus. What started as a trickle in 2007 has become a steady stream of Chin refugees.

Community Refugee and Immigration Services in Columbus has placed 137 Chins since October 2007, Executive Director Angie Plummer said.

Another 13 are scheduled to arrive before the end of November.

One problem with resettlement efforts has been the language barrier. Chin has more than 40 dialects, making it difficult for schools and agencies to find interpreters…

Lai Chin is the common tongue for the 61 Chin students enrolled in South-Western…

According to the United Nations refugee agency, 8,562 refugees from Myanmar were resettled in the United States between January and June this year. More than 1,300, including the Chin, have been resettled in Ohio since 2008.

The largest community of Myanmar refugees is in Indianapolis. There, 3,909 refugees have been settled after arriving from overseas. Because of others moving within the U.S., the Indianapolis population has grown to about 9,000, about 6,400 of them Chin refugees, said Elaisa Vahnie, the executive director of the Burmese-American Community Institute in Indianapolis.

Vahnie said Indianapolis, like Columbus, is a transportation hub where unskilled workers can find warehouse and manufacturing jobs… Read more here

Posted in Chin, Columbus, Community Refugee and Immigration Services (CRIS), Community Refugee and Immigration Services (CRIS), Indianapolis, language, refugee magnet city, schools, secondary migration, refugee | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

Living conditions at apartment complex that burned worse than refugee camp says resident

Posted by Christopher Coen on August 22, 2012

A refugee resident of the Summit Park Apartments on Walford Street in Columbus which went up in fire on Monday after an arson says that living conditions at the complex were worse than living in a refugee camp. Another resident said that his smoke detector didn’t work and he had told apartment managers about it. Many of the units were also said to be infested with bedbugs and roaches. An article at NBC4 tells more:

…Residents nearby told stories about escaping the fire with nothing more than the clothes on their backs. Then, there were the stories about the living conditions, which Mohammed described as worse than living in a refugee camp.

“In the refugee camp at least you had a choice to fix your own place. Here, you can’t fix and they won’t even allow you to do anything about it,” said Mohammed.

Doug Rutledge from Jewish Family Services was also on hand Tuesday, helping many refugees find new homes. Rutledge said they’ve been fighting with management to improve the living conditions at the complex. Many of the units, he claims, are infested with bedbugs and roaches.

“We just interviewed a young a man whose apartment was burned up in the fire, destroyed in the fire. And he said that his fire alarm didn’t work and he had told apartment managers about it,” Rutledge told NBC4.

Abbeyhill Reality and Management maintains Summit Park ApartmentsRead more here

Posted in apartment building fires, Columbus, housing, housing, substandard, Jewish Family Services (Columbus), Nepali Bhutanese, Somali | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Refugees flee fire at Columbus apartment complex

Posted by Christopher Coen on August 21, 2012

Dozens of Bhutanese refugees living at a Columbus apartment complex have been displaced following a fire on Monday evening. A blurb at WSYX ABC-6 News explains:

COLUMBUS — No one was physically injured during an intense blaze at Summit Park Apartments Monday evening. For some however, the fire reminded them of what’s now considered their “past life.”

“About 500 homes,” Laxmi Acharay recalled. “All of us, 500 homes gone at once.”

Acharay is one of dozens who now live at the apartment complex who came to Columbus from a Bhutanese refugee camp in Nepal…

Three dozen homes had to be evacuated as Columbus Firefighters battled the flames.

Acharay’s apartment was untouched by the flames. He’s thankful he won’t have to completely relive the nightmare that once left him homeless in another country. Read more here

The Columbus Dispatch reports that the fire was an arson:

…No injuries were reported in the fire, which started in a fenced-in storage area filled with old furniture next to the apartment building at 4349 Walford St. Investigators say it was arson, Columbus Fire Battalion Chief Michael Fowler said, although they don’t know yet how it was set… Read more here

Posted in apartment building fires, Columbus, housing, Nepali Bhutanese, Somali | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Study finds basic obstacles for refugees not addressed well

Posted by Christopher Coen on August 19, 2012

Scheduling English classes at inconvenient times and places for refugees; not addressing child care; English classes that too often group together learners at vastly different levels of English; insufficient education about Western cultural norms and expectations; refugees made to sign papers they can’t read and don’t understand. These are some of the problems researchers found in refugee resettlement in Dayton. An article at EurekAlert explains:

DENVER — Many refugees to the U.S. travel thousands of miles to a safe harbor, but once here find that adjusting to linguistic and cultural differences is an equally daunting task, according to new research to be presented by two University of Dayton sociologists at the 107th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association…

Theo Majka — with co-author, fellow sociology professor and spouse Linda Majka — researched the experiences of refugees from six ethnic or cultural groups who have resettled in Dayton over the past 20 years. The study is an extension of similar research conducted by the Majkas in 2005 on immigrants and decades of work in diversity studies.

“In the new study, we wanted to see how the experiences of refugees differed from those of people who came here by choice,” said Linda Majka. “We weren’t sure what we would find.”

They found that while both groups face many similar challenges, refugees, who often come directly to the U.S. from traumatic environments with vast cultural differences, experience significant mental health issues and need more education about Western cultural norms and expectations.

“We found that this is a major difference from immigrant groups. Many refugees may be suffering from post-traumatic stress stemming from experiences in their home countries,” Linda Majka said. “They have seen violence, massacres, and even watched family members killed in front of their eyes.”…

Not surprisingly, the greatest obstacle to better integration into the Dayton community was language, which affected virtually every aspect of their experience, the Majkas said.

While the refugees said the quality of English as a Second Language classes offered in the area is generally good, they encountered major obstacles in trying to take the classes, Linda Majka said.

Refugees said classes are held at inconvenient times and places; child care is an issue; and the classes too often group together learners at vastly different levels of English, she said. Language also affects refugees’ ability and comfort in accessing health care, according to Linda Majka.

“For some who are coming from countries where they were detained or suffered persecution, they are very troubled by signing papers they can’t read and don’t understand,” she said…

The Majkas said that since refugee needs in language, employment, school, and housing all are interrelated, improvements in one area will have a positive impact on the others.

Their recommendations include: better coordination of social services, more access to interpreters, more information about available services and housing options, better education about cultural norms and expectations for newly-arrived refugees as well as their rights as refugees and legal residents, and greater awareness of mental health issues and strategies to address them… Read more here

Posted in community/cultural orientation, Dayton, ESL & ELL, language | 2 Comments »

Refugees battle bedbugs in Cleveland

Posted by Christopher Coen on July 17, 2012

What I don’t understand about some refugee resettlement agencies is how they can be out of touch with problems that refugees are having. Right now refugees in Cleveland have been under siege for several months by bedbugs, yet the agency that is sounding the alarm is not one of the local refugee resettlement agencies (International Services Center, Catholic Charities Migration and Refugee Services, and US Together), but rather an after-school kids program. I suspect this one of the problems that the State Department’s Assistant Secretary didn’t hear about on her recent visit to the city. Cleveland’s ABC News Channel-5 has the details about the infestation:

CLEVELAND – Jamu Koue is a Liberian refugee, who is trying to raise five grandchildren in Cleveland. But an outbreak of bed bugs in her apartment complex has made it especially difficult.

Koue speaks very little English, and has been receiving support from Soul Fuel of Cleveland, an after-school program dedicated toward helping families integrate into life in the United States.

Soul Fuel Program coordinator Becky Trout has witnessed the severe bed bug bites on the grandchildren, and contacted NewsChannel5’s Troubleshooter Unit in search of help.

“I was really upset to find out about it, especially since it’s been going on for so long,” said Trout. “The children have been sleeping outside, and they have a lot of bites on the them and they itch.”

Trout said the owner of the West 65th Street apartment building needs to do more to solve the problem. Kapa Nyonee, 11, explained what she and the other grandchildren have been dealing with for the past several months.

“We don’t even sleep at night. Every second we close our eyes, or turn off the light, there’s going to be something biting at you. When we turn the light back on, we find a bed bug with a lot of blood in it.” …Read more here

Posted in Ann Richard, bed bugs, Catholic Charities Migration and Refugee Services (Cleveland), children, Cleveland, International Services Center (Cleveland), Liberian, US Together | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

State Dept. refugee bureau head to visit Portland

Posted by Christopher Coen on July 17, 2012

Assistant Secretary Anne C. Richard of the US Department of State’s refugee bureau will visit Portland, Oregon on Thursday. The head of the refugee bureau last visited Portland in September of 2010. A late notice of the visit is at the State Department’s refugee bureau website:

Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration Anne C. Richard will travel on July 19, 2012, to Portland, Oregon to participate in an event hosted by Mercy Corps to discuss the United States’ humanitarian aid and development strategy with the All China Youth Federation.

On July 20, Assistant Secretary Richard will meet with resettled refugees, local and state government officials, resettlement agencies and other community members involved in the resettlement of refugees.

Since 2009, Portland has welcomed nearly 2,700 refugees from 32 countries… Read more here

According to Assistant Secretary Richard’s account of that recent visit to Cleveland and Pittsburgh, this is what she learned from her travel:

…Local support is strong in Cleveland and Pittsburgh, but gaps still exist in the program. 

Cleveland Dentist Hayat Ali told me how nearly every refugee she treats needs dental work. Very few refugees, however, are covered by dental insurance. Several people also told me about the need for interpreters to help those refugees who do not speak English to communicate with doctors, school officials and others. School officials in Cleveland told me how the No Child Left Behind Act did not exempt the test scores of recently-arrived refugee students from school statistics, which they feared was pulling down overall results for the schools. In both cities, limited bus service can prevent refugees from reaching English classes or jobs… Read more here

Posted in Ann Richard, Assistant Secretary of the PRM, children, Cleveland, ESL & ELL, language, language interpretation/translation, lack of, Pittsburgh, Portland, school for refugee children, schools, transportation | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

State Dept. refugee bureau head to visit Cleveland and Pittsburgh

Posted by Christopher Coen on June 26, 2012

Assistant Secretary Anne C. Richard of the US Department of State’s refugee bureau will visit Cleveland on Wednesday and Pittsburgh on Thursday. A last minute notice of the visits is at the State Department’s PRM bureau website:

Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration Anne C. Richard will travel from June 26-29, 2012, to Cleveland, Ohio and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to meet with resettled refugees, local and state government officials, resettlement agencies and other community members involved in the resettlement of refugees… Read more here

***Visit details here***

Posted in Ann Richard, Cleveland, Pittsburgh | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Refugees preyed on in Columbus

Posted by Christopher Coen on June 19, 2012

Last October police shot to death a man who struggled with them after trying to rob a Nepali Bhutanese refugee at a low-income North Side apartment complex where local resettlement agencies have placed them. Another media look into the situation at the apartment complexes shows that many refugees’ apartments have been burglarized since they began to arrive in the Columbus area four years ago. People also walk up to them and ask for money, with some refugees handing over cash just so they’ll be left alone and then not reporting the incidents to police. The article, however, also gives a clue about police-community relations by noting that police arrested a Nepali Bhutanese refugee for littering when he merely dropped a store receipt outside a convenience store. (Arrested for littering?) An article in The Columbus Dispatch has the story:

When Narayan Sharma returned to his North Side apartment on June 6, he was stunned to discover that someone had broken in.

He said he was shocked that the thieves apparently had no fear of being caught when they hauled out his 42-inch television, a laptop computer, a checkbook and cash during the daytime burglary.

Crime, Sharma said, was not a big problem during his 16 years in a refugee camp in the Himalayan country of Nepal. But it’s something he and other Bhutanese Nepali refugees have had to deal with since they began to arrive in the Columbus area four years ago.

One of the reasons is where many of them live — concentrated in several apartment complexes near Morse Road in the Northland area.

Our expectation is to have safety and security,” said Bhim Basnet, who lives in the Breckenridge Apartments with his wife and four children, the oldest a 16-year-old girl, the youngest a 9-month-old son…

…He said he would like to see police patrolling the area. Community leaders and groups who work with the refugees estimate that their number has grown to more than 2,000 in little more than a year.

Sharma said that a number of refugees’ apartments have been burglarized and that people walk up to the refugees and ask for money. Some refugees hand over cash just so they’ll be left alone, said Damaru Adhikari, who works at the US Together refugee-resettlement agency.

Sharma…said: “They find easy targets, and people don’t complain.”

On Feb. 29, a 35-year-old Bhutanese Nepali refugee was arrested for littering outside a North Side convenience store. He said he dropped a receipt.

The charge, a third-degree misdemeanor, ultimately was dismissed, but the man had to pay $92 in court costs.

The incident “really scared” him, said his attorney, Edward Forman. “I can’t imagine in a million years he would be arrested for that.”… Read more here

Posted in Columbus, Community Refugee and Immigration Services (CRIS), Community Refugee and Immigration Services (CRIS), dangerous neighborhoods, housing, Nepali Bhutanese, police, US Together | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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