Archive for the ‘Columbus’ Category
Posted by Christopher Coen on May 17, 2016
“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: bisexual, Columbus, CRIS, gay, immigration, lesbian, queer, refugees, resettlement, transgender | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on September 24, 2014
For 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: apartments, capital park, Columbus, immigration, refugees, resettlement, slum ord, slumlord, Somali, Volunteers of America | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on June 18, 2013
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: burglarized, Columbus, Community Refugee and Immigration Services Center, computers, Ohio, refugees, resettlement | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on April 23, 2013
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: bedbugs, bhutanese, code violations, Columbus, Community Refugee and Immigration Services, nepalese, roaches, slum lord, Summit Park Apartments, World Relief | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Christopher Coen on November 12, 2012
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: Chin, Columbus, Lai, refugees, resettlement | 3 Comments »
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 Apartments… Read more here
Posted in apartment building fires, Columbus, housing, housing, substandard, Jewish Family Services (Columbus), Nepali Bhutanese, Somali | Tagged: Abbeyhill Reality and Management, bedbugs, Columbus, fire, Jewish Family Services, refugees, resettlement, roaches, smoke detector | 1 Comment »
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: bhutanese, Columbus, fire, nepalese, Nepali, refugees, resettlement | Leave a Comment »
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: bhutanese, Breckenridge Apartments, burglary, Columbus, Community Refugee and Immigration Services, Nepali, police, refugees, resettlement, US Together | Leave a Comment »
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: bhutanese, Columbus, Community Refugee and Immigration Services, CRIS, refugees, resettlement, robbery | Leave a Comment »
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: bhutanese, Breckenridge Apartments, Columbus, Community Refugee and Immigration Services, CRIS, Francis Owens, nepalese, Nepali-Bhutanese, police, refugees, resettlement | Leave a Comment »