Posts Tagged ‘catholic charities’
Posted by Christopher Coen on October 28, 2013
A study commissioned by refugee resettlement groups in Cleveland finds that refugees in Cleveland are more likely to hold a job than native-born residents, more likely to send their children to college, and less likely to be on public assistance — after two years in Cleveland only 8 percent of refugee households are still receiving public assistance. Refugees are also more likely than U.S.-born citizens to start a business and to create a business that succeeds. They founded at least 38 businesses here in the last decade. An article in the Plains Dealer explains:
…A new study reveals that refugees — the world’s most desperate immigrants — tend to do well in Cleveland and often out-achieve their U.S.-born neighbors over time.
Eye-opening revelations include the fact that refugees are more likely to hold a job than native-born residents and more likely to send their children to college. After two years in Cleveland, researchers found, only 8 percent of refugee households are still receiving public assistance, a level of self-sufficiency that beats national norms.
The study by Chmura Economics & Analytics, which is being released Monday, challenges stereotypes and may illuminate a new economic development strategy. Far from burdening a community, refugees tend to assimilate quickly, find work, buy houses and often start businesses.
“Basically, we are business minded. That’s our caste,” Nar Pradhan explained in a soft Himalayan accent. “Cleveland is perfect for us. All of our family is here. All of us are employed.”
The study’s lead author, economist Daniel Meges, cautions the refugee community is minute — numbering fewer than 20,000 people in Greater Cleveland — and its economic impact would not match, say, a major new manufacturing plant.
Still, he said, he was surprised by the scale of economic activity generated by a little-known class of immigrants and concluded a depopulated city would be wise to welcome more of them.
“For a rather small investment, most of which is federal dollars, you bring in people who quickly find jobs and spend money,” Meges said. “These are people who would not be coming here otherwise and who tend to stay. By and a large, our refugees do OK.”…
In Greater Cleveland, the resettlement efforts fall to Catholic Charities, the International Services Center and US Together, an affiliate of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society.
Recently, those three groups teamed up with several nonprofit and faith-based groups to form the Refugee Services Collaborative of Greater Cleveland.
With a grant from the Cleveland Foundation, the collaborative commissioned a study of the refugee community to gauge how it was faring and to plan how they could best help.
Researchers limited their survey to the 4,500 refugees who arrived since 2000 and to Cuyahoga County, where most of them live. From the study emerged unexpected discoveries.
- Seventy-five percent of the county’s refugees over age 16 are employed, compared to 57 percent of the general population.
- Most refugee families have more than one wage earner, allowing a decent standard of living even at minimum wage jobs. Nearly 250 refugees have bought houses.
- Refugees are more likely than U.S.-born citizens to start a business and to create a business that succeeds. They founded at least 38 businesses here in the last decade.
- Refugee households and refuge businesses combined contributed $45 million to the regional economy in 2012.
“Our hunch was this was true,” said Brian Upton, the assistant director of Building Hope in the City, a church-based group that works with refugees and that is part of the collaborative. “They are not takers. They are not a drain on our community. They are very entrepreneurial.”…
Tom Mrosko…directs the Office of Migration and Refugee Services of Cleveland Catholic Charities, the region’s busiest resettlement agency.
Cleveland-area refugees may do better than most because they arrive in modest numbers, Mrosko said. In a region that attracts few immigrants overall, refugee families get more attention from the schools, clinics and libraries that help assimilate new Americans… Read more here
Posted in Catholic Charities Migration and Refugee Services (Cleveland), employment/jobs for refugees, International Services Center (Cleveland), US Together | Tagged: catholic charities, Cleveland, Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, immigration, International Services Center, public assistance, refugees, resettlement, US Together | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on October 19, 2013
Although the federal government shutdown has now ended, refugee resettlement won’t restart until at least Oct. 28. Complex approval, documentation and travel logistics will also delay many refugee arrivals for months. Some refugees may be required to reapply for medical approvals or security clearances that are good for a limited time, and depending on the country, refugees also may have to reapply for exit visas. An article in USAToday explains:
…roughly 4,500 refugees who had been cleared to come to the United States in October — including 73 heading for Kentucky — but now face delays that resettlement officials say may take months for some to resolve…
Now more than 2 weeks old, the shutdown forced the U.S. State Department to suspend most refugee arrivals and enact a travel moratorium, partly because the financial, medical and federal benefits or services aren’t available in some areas to help newcomers from Somalia, Iraq, Myanmar, Bhutan and a host of other countries, officials said.
Although most expect Congress to reach an agreement to reopen the government, resettlement won’t restart until at least Oct. 28 — and even then, the shutdown’s cascading effect on complex approval, documentation and travel logistics will delay many arrivals for months.
Nowhere to go
…Some may be required to reapply for medical approvals or security clearances that are good for a limited time — and depending on the country, refugees also may have to reapply for exit visas, including Burmese leaving Thai refugee camps…
The shutdown came just as the government was set to begin admitting 70,000 refugees for the coming federal fiscal year, said Cindy Jensen, director of resettlement with the International Rescue Committee. The moratorium was first extended to Oct. 21, and then again to Oct. 28.
A State Department official said the move was meant to ensure refugees receive proper support when they arrive but acknowledged it had left thousands of people “sitting in limbo.”
The government is allowing those who are seen as being at high risk to continue to arrive, such as Iraqi refugees who helped the United States during the war.
Church World Service, one of a handful of federally approved resettlement agencies, reported that nearly half of the refugees under its authority, initially cleared for travel in October, will be delayed as long as three months…
…Kentucky Refugee Ministries, which operates on a tight budget, is having to use reserves to continue to pay caseworkers and provide services, partly because the shutdown has kept the agency from getting the federal reimbursement of $750 per arrival budgeted for October… Read more here
Posted in Catholic Charities of Louisville Inc., Congress, CWS, funding, IRC, Louisville, moratorium / restriction / reduction | Tagged: catholic charities, federal government, immigration, IRC, Kentucky, Louisville, moratorium, refugees, resettlement, security clearances, shut down | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on July 30, 2013
In light of the communication problems after the murder of two Karenni refugees at apartment complex in Phoenix in April, the police will now have access to refugee community leaders and interpreters in the communities 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Officers can also carry a card that includes contact numbers for refugee agencies and questions to ask refugees to better identify appropriate resources. An article in The Arizona Republic explains:
…Two Burmese refugees were stabbed at the Serrano Village Apartments near 28th Avenue and Camelback Road, leaving fellow refugees stunned and afraid.
Ker Reh, 54, and Kay Reh, 24, who are not related, were attacked outside an apartment unit where they were attending a prayer service for a friend who had died of natural causes….
Thousands of Burmese refugees call Phoenix home, and the homicides highlighted the struggles the community faces. Community leaders and the police department are working to overcome some of those issues, such as language barriers and fear of the police…
More than 4,100 Burmese refugees have moved to Arizona since fiscal 1999 with a majority of them — 3,858 — concentrated in apartments around Phoenix…
The main stumbling block for the refugees is their lack of English skills, leaders said. Phoenix police had to call a translator on April 28 to the murder scene to help piece together what had happened.
…many refugees don’t call 911 for help because they can’t speak English.
“The 911 ask many questions so people are scared to call,” said Ray, who taught himself English when he arrived to this country. He spent 20 years in a Thai refugee camp.
Phary Reh, 35, said many of the older refugees also fear the police because of their experiences with them in Thailand and Burma.
“When they are driving and see police, they are scared,” he said. “In their heart, it reminds them of the police in Thailand.”…
Police spokesman Steve Martos said the department also is enhancing its ability to serve the Myanmar refugees.
“This incident helped us address a deficiency as it relates to language barriers,” he said. “We have since worked with the refugee community to find ways we can have access to their community leaders and someone to translate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”…
Now, officers can carry a card that includes contact numbers for refugee agencies and questions to ask refugees to better identify appropriate resources… Read more here
Posted in Catholic Charities Phoenix, crime, dangerous neighborhoods, gangs, hate crimes, Karenni, language, Phoenix, police, safety | Tagged: Burmese, catholic charities, interpretation, karenni, murders, Phoenix, refugees, resettlement, Serrano Village Apartments, stabbings | 3 Comments »
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 Burma/Myanmar, Catholic Charities of the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese, democracy, Detroit area, Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, Office of Admissions, openess and transparency in government, State Department, UN (United Nations) | Tagged: advocates, catholic charities, Detroit, fort wayne, Indianapolis, Larry Bartlett, refugees, resettlement, stakeholders, State Department, UNHCR | 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 »