Posts Tagged ‘catholic charities’
Posted by Christopher Coen on April 16, 2013
Larry Bartlett, director of refugee admissions for the U.S. State Department will visit Fort Wayne on Thursday. He will also visit local refugee resettlement efforts in Indianapolis and Detroit next week. As usual, the State Department will only meet with “stakeholders” – resettlement agencies, service providers, advocates, Mayor Tom Henry and refugees themselves. The only refugees that State visits are those chosen by the refugee resettlement contractor(s). Although “advocates” are newly listed as stakeholders, as a refugee advocate myself I can tell you that State has never, that I know of, responded to independent advocates with dissenting views or invited them to attend these meetings. Accepting criticism were due is not a skill modeled or practiced by the federal refugee resettlement oversight agencies or their contractors. An article in the Journal-Gazette has more:
FORT WAYNE – Officials for the U.S. State Department and the United Nations will visit Fort Wayne this week to learn more about refugee resettlement efforts.
Larry Bartlett, director of refugee admissions for State, and Shelly Pitterman, regional director of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, plan to meet Thursday with those described by Bartlett as “stakeholders” – resettlement agencies, service providers, advocates, Mayor Tom Henry and refugees themselves.
“We try to go to communities on a regular basis to really try to understand where the nuances are, how communities are coping and how we might, if we can, adjust some of the programs,” Bartlett said from his Washington, D.C., office in a telephone interview last week.
The last time a State Department official came to Fort Wayne to evaluate refugee resettlement services was in 2009. Bartlett also will visit refugee communities in Indianapolis and Detroit next week.
“Part of the responsibility we have is not just to see how our programs are faring but to see how the community is supporting refugees, to see where there are issues, challenges, weaknesses in the programs that we can be helpful with,” Bartlett said.
“We really do see this as a partnership with the community,” he said…
…Eric Schwartz, then an assistant secretary of the State Department, discovered what he called “heartening and dismaying” conditions for newly arriving refugees of various nationalities when he visited Fort Wayne…in 2009…
…Schwartz ended his dispatch by saying the State Department would increase its resettlement grants from $900 to $1,800 for each new refugee, an amount that has since grown to $1,875. Roughly half the money goes for administrative costs of resettlement agencies, Bartlett said, and half pays for rent, food and other necessities for the refugee…
…The State Department has a nationwide ceiling of 18,000 refugee arrivals from East Asia in fiscal 2013, which ends Sept. 30. It expects 17,500 of them to be ethnic minority Burmese who have been living in refugee camps in Malaysia and Thailand.
The department has approved Catholic Charities for 170 refugee resettlements in fiscal 2013. Read more here
We read that the State Department per head refugee resettlement grant had increased, from $1,800 in 2010 to the current $1,875 as it turns out, but this is the first mention I’ve seen in the media. The grant only covers initial resettlement efforts in the U.S. – the first 30-90 days – which the State Department claims they intend as “seed money” for the private resettlement contractors to use for resettlement, with significant private resources supposedly added in. I suppose allowing the contractors to use 50 percent of it for overhead though somewhat defeats the purpose of the “see money” policy, although it may be necessary in instances where they are unable to find private resources to add. Otherwise, wouldn’t you expect that they would use the private funding for overhead and transferring the $1,875 directly to the refugees in goods and services?
The article somewhat confuses the issue of who Burmese are by referring to “ethnic minority Burmese”. The Burmese are actually the ethnic majority group in Myanmar, with minority ethnic groups being the Arakan (aka Rakhine), Chin, Kachin, Karen, Karenni, Mon, Rohingyas, Shan, Zomi and others. At this blog we now refer to refugees from the country as Myanmar refugees. The Burmese were the group allied with the Japanese in World War II, while the U.S., the U.K. and others allied with the ethnic minority groups.
Posted in State Department, Burma/Myanmar, openess and transparency in government, Fort Wayne, Detroit area, Indianapolis, UN (United Nations), Office of Admissions, democracy, Catholic Charities of the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese | Tagged: UNHCR, State Department, refugees, catholic charities, resettlement, fort wayne, stakeholders, Detroit, Indianapolis, Larry Bartlett, advocates | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on September 16, 2012
Catholic Charities in Allentown has decided to shutter its refugee resettlement program in Allentown, Penn. The agency is apparently claiming the reason is due to federal refugee resettlement cuts. The article points to “decline in federal funds”, although only citing a U.S. House of Representatives appropriations committee recommendation for 2013. Except, there hasn’t been any cut to ORR funds. Its true that in the previous two years the Republican dominated House made similar proposed cuts, but the Senate then voted those down. An article in The Morning Call examines Catholic Charities’ refugee resettlement program closing in Allentown:
…[There have been] 1,400 [refugees resettled] since Catholic Charities [in the Diocese of Allentown] started its refugee resettlement program in 1975 to aid Vietnamese fleeing their homeland after the fall of Saigon.
But the program has quietly ended. So has the agency’s venerable foster care program, which found stable families for hundreds of children displaced from their homes by domestic troubles.
In the first case, federal funding for the Office of Refugee Resettlement — part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services — has been a target of deep cuts in recent years and continues to face the knife. The appropriation recommended for 2013 by a House budget subcommittee is $658 million, about $112 million less than the current year.
The decline in federal funds has meant fewer clients for the public and private agencies that partner with the government in resettlement. Catholic Charities Executive Director Pam Russo said the agency placed 137 refugees in the 2010 fiscal year, 69 the following year and 43 through the middle of this year.
At that point, the agency decided to get out of the resettlement business… Read more here
Posted in Catholic, funding, ORR account, Pennsylvania | Tagged: Allentown, catholic charities, federal funding, Office of Refugee Resettlement, ORR, refugees, resettlement | 1 Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on July 22, 2012
Teachers in the Omaha school district’s English as a Second Language Teen Literacy Center have their hands full trying to teach refugee teens lessons in the alphabet, vowels and consonants, and figurative and literal meaning. They also have to teach skills such as completing homework, accepting the word “no” and dealing with embarrassment. They also teach them to take notes and write five-paragraph essays with main and supporting ideas. Then there is adding and subtracting by 20s, multiply and divide by 12s, science and constitutional amendments. But, lessons in personal hygiene and dental health? Driving students to the hospital for immunizations? Visiting students’ homes to tell families the difference between the stove and refrigerator and that canned goods go in the pantry, cheese in the fridge? It seems like teachers are having to fill in for work not done by resettlement workers. An article in the Omaha World Herald covers the topic:
The bulletin board in a classroom on the fourth floor of the [Omaha Public Schools] headquarters succinctly describes this tiny school for the district’s newest at-risk teenage students.
Vertical cutouts of student photographs — southeast Asian boys with punk rock haircuts or African girls in modest, colorful Muslim wear — form words proclaiming: “WE R THE TLC.”
That’s shorthand for English as a Second Language Teen Literacy Center.
This is ground zero in OPS for newcomer non-English speakers with little formal education who are 13 to 21. Younger students generally enter their schools’ ESL programs. The TLC serves as a crucial bridge for these older students...
The public has a stake in this. A government survey of refugees resettled between 2004 and 2008 showed a correlation: The better the refugees’ command of English, the better their employment and earning potential, and the less likely they were to rely on welfare.
“It is critical that we do things right with the first generation so that we don’t have long-term societal problems,” said Susan Mayberger, who heads up the district’s $17 million program for ESL and migrant students, which includes about $370,000 for the school-year TLC...
Teaching the core subjects is a big enough challenge, but teachers can’t help but get pulled into other aspects of their students’ lives.
“They need so much,” said Scurlock, who is in her ninth year at TLC. “They need academics … job skills … counseling.”
But the teachers aren’t trained social workers and are frustrated by how helpless they feel.
There is little time to call state welfare offices, navigate labyrinthine public assistance programs or deal with red tape. Yet how can they not step in?
Math teacher Diana Saunders drove a student to Douglas County Hospital for immunizations. Language teacher Jackie Leet drove two students and their parents to a summer jobs program and sat with them through all the training.
Scurlock was a birth coach when a former student, pregnant and divorced and alone, needed someone.
Rodricks, the reading teacher, bought students clothes at Target. Married to a chef, she helped get one student a restaurant job as a cook.
Teachers keep bins of used clothes and shoes at the school to give away. The newest students usually have only one or two outfits, said Stratman, and are always in need of winter clothes.
They give spontaneous lessons in personal hygiene and dental health. They have to explain to every newcomer from Myanmar or Thailand that flip-flops won’t work in an Omaha winter. They visit students’ homes and tell families the difference between the stove and refrigerator and that canned goods go in the pantry, cheese in the fridge…
“We’re like surrogate parents,” Leet said. “Our connection with them is really important.”… Read more here
Posted in Catholic Charities (Omaha), education, insufficient assistance with daily tasks, language, Lutheran Family Services (Omaha), Omaha, schools, Southern Sudan Community Association (Omaha), teenagers | Tagged: catholic charities, Lutheran Family Services, Omaha, refugees, resettlement, Southern Sudan Community Association, teens | 2 Comments »
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
Posted in Catholic, Catholic Charities Archdiocese of San Antonio Inc., children, Congolese, employment services, homelessness, housing, housing, substandard, San Antonio | Tagged: catholic charities, Congolese, employment services, eviction, refugees, resettlement, San Antonio | 3 Comments »
Posted by Christopher Coen on April 18, 2012
***UPDATE*** – April 24, 2012 — Dovetree Apartments alleges that only one apartment was affected by bed bug infestation
Bed bugs have infested at least 24 apartment units in an apartment building housing refugees in San Antonio. The resurgence of bedbugs is a problem throughout the United States (Note: like mosquitoes they take a blood meal from humans, however, unlike mosquitoes they transmit no diseases). Bedding donated to Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of San Antonio seems to be the culprit in this case. An article at KSAT has the story:
Refugees from all over the world came to San Antonio to escape war, poverty and persecution in their home countries, yet Pamela Espurvoa, a refugee advocate, said they arrived here only to encounter a bed bug infestation at the Dove Tree Apartments in the 4500 block of Gardendale.
Yet now, Pamela Raines, director of development for Catholic Charities, the agency responsible for their resettlement, said Dove Tree will begin treatment on Friday once the affected apartments are identified.
“Catholic Charities will certainly cover it,” Raines said, referring to the cost of the extermination…
…Espurvoa said tenants of all ages were being bitten by the bugs. She said an exterminator told her the bed bugs were in the mattresses, walls, air ducts and clothing.
“He couldn’t believe the magnitude of this, and this is only one unit,” Espurvoa said.
Espurvoa said she believes at least two dozen units are infested…
…Reason being, the apartment manager said, was that the infestation occurred after the refugees moved in.
Both she and Espurvoa said the likely source was the bedding that was donated, since the families arrived with next to nothing… Read more here
An article at the San Antonio Express-News indicates that several buildings are affected. Also, a Myanmar refugee said she had not reported the problem to apartment management despite a month-long infestation.
…Exterminators have been called to combat a bedbug problem at a Northwest Side apartment complex reserved for refugees seeking asylum.
The outbreak was reported Tuesday at the Dove Tree apartments in the 4500 block of Gardendale. Dove Tree is one of several San Antonio complexes where refugees settle after arriving through the United States Refugee Resettlement Program.
Catholic Charities is helping provide exterminators to spray affected units Friday, according to a source. The organization had no comment Tuesday night.
The pest problem has been reported to affect several buildings.
Nye Reh, from Myanmar, lives with his wife and five other relatives in a two-bedroom unit where a spray of insect droppings covers the corner of a mattress.
Reh said through a relative interpreting for him that he itches throughout the day.
Damanti Biswa said she sleeps near her front door to get away from the bugs. Tika Biswa interpreted for her, saying she’s had the problem for the past month and hadn’t reported the bugs to apartment management yet…
…The resurgence of bedbugs has been a problem throughout the United States, not only in apartments but also in the nicest hotels, said Roseann Vivanco, clinical instructor at the University of Texas Health Science Center…
“Bedbugs don’t mean a person is dirty; they don’t discriminate between the rich or poor,” Vivanco said. “There does need to be some education, continuous cleaning, and they’ll need assistance with that. I’m glad to see that Catholic Charities has stepped up to the plate to help out.” Read more here
Posted in bed bugs, Burma/Myanmar, Catholic Charities Archdiocese of San Antonio Inc., Nepali Bhutanese, San Antonio, volunteers | Tagged: bed bugs, bhutanese, Burma, catholic charities, infestation, Myanmar, refugees, resettlement, San Antonio | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on April 17, 2012
At least five houses were damaged in a fire that sweep through an historic neighborhood in downtown near the capitol in Albany on Sunday. The building where the fire started was occupied by three Myanmar refugee families resettled by Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Albany. An article at the Albany Times-Union explains:
ALBANY — First, neighbors heard screams. Then they saw the flames.
A wall of fire washed over half a block of Park Avenue in the Mansion neighborhood Sunday evening, drawing every firetruck in the capital city to try to contain a blaze that was roaring in three houses when crews arrived around 8 p.m.
At least five houses erected in the years after the Civil War were damaged, officials said late Sunday. And although half a city block was evacuated as smoke and steam spoiled the mild spring air, no firefighters or residents were injured, according to Mayor Jerry Jennings and Fire Chief Robert Forezzi.
It was too early, the men said, to know how many people were displaced…
…Michele O’Sullivan, 45, was sitting in her apartment at 56 Park Ave. when “we heard screams, then we heard fire, then we looked up and in seconds we saw the flames.” She and several other neighbors said the blaze started at 60 Park Ave., in the back of the top floor. Forezzi and Jennings said an investigation was ongoing and that any word on a cause was premature. That building is occupied by three families who are refugees from the southeast Asian nation of Burma, according to a volunteer for Catholic Charities who assists them. The volunteer declined to be named. Some recently arrived in the city, but others have been here at least two years, the volunteer said… Read more here
Posted in Albany, apartment building fires, Burma/Myanmar | Tagged: Albany, apartment house fire, Burma, catholic charities, Myanmar, refugees, resettlement | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on March 22, 2012
An Iraqi mother has finally found refugee in the bay area, and must now deal with problems faced by poor Americans. She has a job lined up, but can’t enroll her children in school without a permanent residence. She can’t get an apartment, however, without having a job. A story at NBC Bay Area explains her predicament:
On the ninth anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, an Iraqi mother is desperately eager for her American dream to begin in Santa Clara.
Taghreed Alazzawi worked in Baghdad’s Green Zone as an interpreter for the Texas-based contractor KBR. That work is something she says put a target on her head.
In 2008, she arrived in Santa Clara as a refugee. In the years since, she became a legal resident with a green card, and returned to Iraq for her two sons who were abandoned by their father.
Now, she and her 11- and 12-year-old boys are staying in a $50-a-night motel room — they sleep on the bed, she sleeps on the floor — because she hasn’t found a permanent home.
“If you want to rent an apartment, they want to see check stubs. Being unemployed right now, no, this is going to be almost impossible finding an apartment,” said Alazzawi.
Alazzawi has a job lined up, but can’t work until the children are enrolled in school and they have a permanent residence… Read more here
Posted in Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County, employment/jobs for refugees, Iraqi, Santa Rosa, schools | Tagged: Bay Area, catholic charities, Iraqi, refugees, resettlement, Santa Clara | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on March 5, 2012
It turns out that the State Department let a Catholic lobbyist sit in on the public refugee resettlement program’s so-called “stakeholders” meeting last month, while only giving the public a last minute notice of the meeting. Lobbyist Jennifer Murphy of the Catholic Public Policy Commission of Tennessee attended the meeting. They never told us where they met either, did they?
Posted in Catholic, moratorium / restriction / reduction, State Department, Tennessee | Tagged: catholic charities, Catholic Public Policy Commission of Tennessee., Jennifer Murphy, moratorium, refugees, resettlement, State Department | 2 Comments »
Posted by Christopher Coen on November 6, 2011
As secondary migrant refugees continue arriving in Waterloo – in search of jobs or to join their families – the federal refugee agencies remain incognito. In this vacuum the county public health agency has become the default lead agency involved with case coordinating all aspects of issues that refugees face. Hundreds of refugees need green cards – to apply for permanent residency status after a year in the US – an issue the health agency has no experience with. Other refugees have fallen victim to assaults and robberies with the lack of guidance and orientation to the community and culture. An article in the Waterloo/Cedar Falls Courier has more:
…The number of Burmese here has grown as members of the Burmese community refer friends and family, said Kaitlin Emrich, disease surveillance program manager. Before, the majority were recruited by Tyson Fresh Meats. The plant employs about 300 Burmese, including an interpreter to transport and interpret at appointments.
Now, some are seeking jobs elsewhere, while others are stay-at-home mothers, or have health problems and come to stay with family.
“They’re kind of coming in under the radar,” said Bruce Meisinger, director of public health for the county. “Before we were aware there were X number coming on a certain date.”
According to Emrich, Tyson continues to hire Burmese refugees, and the population is expected to continue growing quickly until winter. Several large families — with eight to 10 members each — will reportedly arrive soon, while many continue to wait for family to join them from Burma or other states.
“We are anticipating the first multigenerational family to arrive by the end of (October),” Emrich said…
…”Basically, we are still the lead agency involved with case coordinating all aspects of the issues the community is confronted with in terms of the Burmese resettling here,” Meisinger said. “There is no indication that the numbers are going to slow down in the foreseeable future.”
Emrich said close to two full-time-equivalent employees are now devoted to Burmese issues. The department is looking for a partner to handle non-health-related issues, and she has been in communication with a Des Moines agency about establishing a resettlement agency to serve the Cedar Valley.
She previously sought assistance from Catholic Charities, which declined because staffers have full loads and doesn’t have the means to hire additional workers.
“They’re used to working about 32 cases a year,” Emrich said. “We’re seeing about 32 cases every two or three weeks.”
Tyson has worked with the U.S. State Department to bring refugees to Waterloo from refugee camps in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Texas. Their resettlement here is considered secondary migration. Financial help is attached to primary refugees, Emrich said...
…According to Emrich, the Burmese live in rental housing with one primary landlord “who understands their unique needs as newcomers to our country.” However, some have fallen victim to assaults and robberies, especially in neighborhoods with high crime rates, she said… Read more here
Posted in Burma/Myanmar, Catholic Charities Diocese of Des Moines, community/cultural orientation, dangerous neighborhoods, economic self-sufficiency, immigration services, meatpacking industry, safety, secondary migration, refugee, Waterloo | Tagged: Burmese, catholic charities, Office of Refugee Resettlement, ORR, refugees, resettlement, secondary migration, State Department, Tyson Fresh Meats, Waterloo | 1 Comment »