Friends of Refugees

A U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program Watchdog Group

Archive for the ‘Community Refugee and Immigration Services (CRIS)’ 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 »

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 »

Twin Cities resettlement agency expands to Mankato

Posted by Christopher Coen on May 8, 2012

The Minnesota Council of Churches, an affiliate of EMM and CWS, is opening its first outstate (outside the Twin Cities) office in Mankato. Mankato is a small city and site of Minnesota State University and a Mayo Clinic facility. The top four employers are Immanuel St. Joseph’s – Mayo Health System, Minnesota State University, the public school district and MRCI Industrial Operation, a temporary employment services provider. An article in the Mankato Free Press explains:

MANKATO — When the Minnesota Council of Churches was deciding where to build its first outstate office for refugee assistance, Mankato stood out.

That wasn’t because refugees were coming here directly from their home countries. Mankato isn’t designated by the federal government as a first stop for refugees.

But refugees who landed in other American cities were making their way to Mankato and bringing relatives, said Rachele King, director of refugee services for the nonprofit.

She heard good things about Mankato, both as a place to live and one that helps refugees.

The Mankato office opened April 1, but is taking time to figure out what other nonprofits and governments are doing here to avoid competing with them… Read more here

Posted in Community Refugee and Immigration Services (CRIS), Minnesota, Minnesota Council of Churches, Minnesota Council of Churches | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

“Fight” at Columbus apartment complex in August was actually a robbery

Posted by Christopher Coen on October 12, 2011

 

A so-called “fight” between a man and the Nepali-Bhutanese residents of an apartment complex in Columbus turns out to have been an alleged robbery. Police shot the man to death. The robbery apparently involved more than one perpetrator. An article in ThisWeek Community Newspapers has the details:

…an Aug. 24 police-involved shooting at the 604-unit Breckenridge Apartments on Shanley Drive east of Karl Road. Initial reports said a melee that broke out there that night was a result of racial tensions between the Bhutanese people and African American residents of the complex, but Remy said that turned out not to be the case.

It was instead, he said, a matter of a robbery.

The incident involved a “couple of gangsters robbing people,” Abdi Soofe of the city’s Community Relations Commission told The Columbus Dispatch for a story that ran on Sept. 6.

A 21-year-old man died after being shot by a police officer as he scuffled with another cop during a fight involving more than two dozen people in the courtyard of the apartment complex, according to The Dispatch.

Angie Plummer, executive director of Community Refugee and Immigration Services-Ohio, said the situation was not the result of racial tensions but was instead “a bunch of criminal … ne’er-do-wells looking for people to prey on.”… Read more here

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

Police shoot man to death at Columbus apartment complex after tensions involving Bhutanese escalate

Posted by Christopher Coen on August 29, 2011

Tensions between black and Nepali-Bhutanese residents of a North Side Columbus apartment complex reached a peak last week when officers were called on a report of a fight that included a man with a gun. The story is in The Columbus Dispatch:

The fight that resulted in the shooting death of a man by a Columbus police officer on Wednesday night apparently was the result of racial tensions between black and Nepalese residents of a North Side apartment complex, neighbors said.

Residents of the complex said a melee broke out between four black men and as many as 20 Nepalese immigrants, all of whom live in the Breckenridge Apartments off Shanley Drive.

About 100 Nepales refugees live in the complex, said a woman from Nepal who lives there. She said the racial tensions are ongoing, and she asked not to be named for fear of retaliation.

Yesterday, police still wouldn’t release the name of the man who died shortly after 9 p.m. Wednesday at the Ohio State University Medical Center…

…The incident began, Columbus police said, when officers were called about 8:30 p.m. to 1666 Shanley Dr. on a report of a fight that included a man with a gun.

Just as officers arrived, they heard gunshots, said Sgt. Christine Nemchev, spokeswoman for Columbus police.

Two officers went into a crowd that was fighting in the apartment-complex courtyard, and one of them got into a scuffle with an armed man. That man was shot by the officer’s partner, according to police… Read more here

Another article identifies the man killed by police as 21-year-old Francis Owens.

My question is a simple one: What did the refugees’ resettlement agency do to help them resolve the escalating tensions? Some landlords let disruptive and hostile tenants in, and its at that point that other tenants need to think about getting out. Did the resettlement agency place these refugees at the apartment complex? Did the agency help the Nepalese try to negotiate through the tricky situation?

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

 
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