Friends of Refugees

A U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program Watchdog Group

Archive for the ‘Ohio’ Category

Helping LGBTQ refugees find acceptance and community

Posted by Christopher Coen on May 17, 2016

LGBTQ

“Love Will Win: The LGBTQ Refugee Experience” is the name of a new speakers bureau program being launched by Stonewall Columbus in collaboration with Community Refugee and Immigration Services (CRIS). The purpose is to help lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender refugees in central Ohio find acceptance, support and friends in Columbus. The head of CRIS contacted Stonewall Columbus after noticing a number of refugees who were self-identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer. The hope for the group is to create a safe space and give the refugees a community where they didn’t have one. An article at ThisWeek Community News has the details:

Some Ugandan refugees who have settled in Columbus, primarily in the Northland area, are hoping “Love Will Win” in their new country, because it’s been fighting a losing battle back home.

“Love Will Win: The LGBTQ Refugee Experience” is the name of a new speakers bureau program being launched by Stonewall Columbus in collaboration with Community Refugee and Immigration Services, the first joint venture between the two organizations.

The purpose, according to Angela K. Plummer of CRIS and Lori Gum of Stonewall, is to help lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender refugees in central Ohio find the acceptance they never had in the countries where they were born or among the others from their homeland who have also settled in Columbus…

The program is expected to expand to include refugees from other countries, according to Gum, program coordinator for Stonewall. Initially, however, Love Will Win is to focus on a few from ultra-homophobic Uganda, where homosexual acts are punishable by life in prison.

“We reached out to Stonewall when we learned we would be getting some LBGT refugees,” said Plummer, executive director of the Northland-based independent nonprofit Community Refugee and Immigration Services. “We wanted to find some community support for them. We have certain roles to get them going, but truly for long-term integration, you can’t understate the importance of finding friends and support in the community”… Read more here

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

U.S. Senate investigative report on ORR placing unaccompanied minors with human traffickers

Posted by Christopher Coen on March 8, 2016

report

On January 28, 2016 the U.S. Senate released an investigative report stating that the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) failed to protect unaccompanied alien children from human traffickers. The investigation was prompted by the identification of six children from Guatemala who were trafficked on egg farms in central Ohio last year. The Senate report cited 13 other cases involving post-placement trafficking of unaccompanied minors and 15 additional cases with serious trafficking indicators. According to the report, the ORR performed visits in less than 5 percent of cases overall from 2013 to 2015, thus the report cannot say with certainty how many more minors have been victims of traffickingRead report here

Posted in children, Congress, foster care, human trafficking, Ohio, ORR, sexual abuse, teenagers, teens | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Refugees’ contributions to the economy

Posted by Christopher Coen on March 4, 2016

econ

According to Chmura Economics and Analytics, refugees in Cleveland netted the city a 48-million-dollar return.  earnings among refugees in the U.S. has easily outpaced immigrants of other kinds. Another study from 2004 showed that efugee immigrants work four percent more hours, earn 20 percent more in income, and develop their English language skills 11 percent faster than economic immigrants.  An article at The Moderate Voice has the facts:

…In 2012, refugee service agencies in Cleveland, Ohio spent about 4.8 million dollars helping refugees establish themselves and become assimilated into American culture. By any objective measure, that’s a drop in the bucket when you consider that Cleveland’s 2015 budget weighed in at a stunning 131.6 billion dollars.

Things look even better when you consider what the city earned back by welcoming these refugees.

According to Chmura Economics and Analytics, refugees in Cleveland netted the city a 48-million-dollar return, since refugees “are more likely to be entrepreneurial and enjoy higher rates of successful business ventures compared to natives”…

The report went on to point out that annual earnings among refugees in the U.S. has handily outpaced immigrants of other kinds. An earlier study provided similar findings in 2004: Refugee immigrants work four percent more hours, earn 20 percent more in income, and develop their English language skills 11 percent faster than economic immigrants… Read more here

 

Posted in Cleveland, language | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Cockroaches and mice scurry across floor where Luul Botan’s children play

Posted by Christopher Coen on September 24, 2014

slumlordFor new readers, across the US the private, yet publicly-funded, refugee resettlement agencies have in many cases placed refugees in slumlord apartments with no tools for knowing their rights or how to help themselves. This, as part of a humanitarian program. Refugees have also moved to these apartments under their own volition. Somali refugees in Columbus, Ohio have been living in some of these slumlord apartments, in this case owned/manages by Volunteers of America. It seems that (a) local resettlement agency/agencies has/have left the refugees with a poor to nonexistent understanding of their rights, while apparently turning a blind eye to the horrible problems. This is not the first case like this in recent years from Columbus.  Last year a similar case unfolded at the Summit Park apartments. The Columbus Dispatch has the latest story:

Cockroaches and mice scurry across the carpeted floor where Luul Botan’s three young children play.

The bathroom and kitchen faucets leak a steady stream of water. Some of the kitchen cabinets are broken. The drawers stick. And the front door doesn’t close easily, leaving the 32-year-old mother fearful that someone might break into their North Side apartment at night.

“The conditions are horrible, and the management at Capital Park apartments doesn’t care how bad it gets,” she said last week through a Somali interpreter.

Botan said she fears that her children, who are 5 years, 1 year and 4 months old, are being sickened by the insects and mouse droppings. She said she asked the manager five times to replace a missing screen in the living-room window of her second-floor apartment in the complex on Agler Road.

“I’m so afraid my daughter will fall out when she runs over to watch children playing outside. It’s so dangerous,” she said.

During the past several weeks, dozens of Capital Park residents have called the city of Columbus about what they say is a worsening problem. With the help of Legal Aid attorneys and other volunteers, the mostly low-income Somali refugees have also begun sending letters to the management of the 314-unit complex owned by Volunteers of America, requesting repairs that many have already asked for.

“The tenants in this case are stepping up, asking the landlord merely to do what Ohio law requires: Keep the rental property fit, habitable and up to code,” said Benjamin D. Horne, a managing attorney with the Legal Aid Society of Columbus.

Most of the residents were resettled by the federal government from refugee camps in Kenya, he said. They have little knowledge of their rights… Read more here

Posted in Columbus, housing, housing, substandard, Slumlords | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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, magnet city, refugee, 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 »

 
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