Friends of Refugees

A U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program Watchdog Group

Posts Tagged ‘slum lord’

Refugees in slumlord housing in Syracuse

Posted by Christopher Coen on March 27, 2016


This is an odd story not because it involves refugees in slumlord housing, which is not unusual, but because a journalist tries instead to play it up as a “taxpayers” issue. It’s not that landlords are under-regulated (“regulation” being a word that he right-wing hates) and can get away with murder; it’s that “taxpayers” are paying you see (maybe section-8, although the article doesn’t give any details). A class-action lawsuit filed in February in Syracuse for more than 40 Somali refugees living at a north-side apartment complex due to a multitude of housing violations. There is no indication if Catholic Charities refugee resettlement agency placed the refugees in the housing or if the refugees moved there on their own. Living conditions include: a hole in a staircase, cockroaches scurrying across kitchens and bathrooms, leaky tubs, broken windows, bed bugs, boarded up, vacant apartments, and trespassers that hang out in the common area doing drugs, leaving behind drug paraphernalia on the ground. Refugees describe helplessness at getting problems fixed. The property management company that handles the apartment building is owned by a well-connected Syracuse man, John St. Denis, who is a donor to Catholic Charities. St. Denis made headlines last year for running a collection agency so bad he’s barred by the state attorney general from ever opening another debt collection business. The apartment complex isn’t St. Denis’ only problem property. There are a reported 21 cases of alleged substandard living conditions at St. Denis’s other properties, ranging from rats to sewage backups. Although obviously refugees are better here in horrible housing than being killed back where they came from, its inexcusable that resettlement agencies don’t monitor these problems and deal with them before they get out of control. (Syracuse is also where refugees have been frequent targets of street crime for six years now.) An article at has the story:

Syracuse, NY — There’s no heat or water in the dead of winter. Urine and feces dirty the hallways. Children go to school scarred by bedbug bites. Drug dealers take refuge inside busted doors.

This is what America looks like for dozens of refugees, who fled war and persecution to find a North Side [Syracuse] apartment complex that is no refuge.

…[the] owners…haven’t consistently paid water bills, maintained the property or provided adequate security… Read more here

Posted in Catholic, Catholic Charities Diocese of Syracuse, housing, housing, substandard, Slumlords, Somali, Syracuse | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Columbus apartment complex where resettlement agencies placed refugees riddled with problems

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: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

‘Deplorable’ living conditions at Phoenix apartment complex

Posted by Christopher Coen on August 23, 2012

Refugees in Phoenix have been resettled to an apartment complex riddled with well over 300 violations per team of Phoenix inspection officials. The rundown eyesore of a complex has conditions including lack of running water and no air conditioning, flooding, dozens of dead animals, staircases in shambles, lofts with holes in the floor, rotted porches, and rat, bedbug, and roach infestations. Some of the buildings are fit to be condemned. The refugees were apparently resettled by Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest. An article at KTAR in Phoenix has the details:

PHOENIX — Residents of the Woodbridge Apartments near 19th and Glendale avenues in Phoenix are looking to the city for help.

The rundown property is an eyesore and the living conditions are described as deplorable.

Resident Jerry Bradley claims that in a short period of time he’s had to deal with bedbugs, roaches and flooding.

Another resident, Thomas Mullins, said he can hear rats crawling in the walls and ceilings of his unit…

Earlier this week the City of Phoenix Neighborhood Services obtained an administrative search warrant. Police and teams of Phoenix officials spent hours inspecting the property located at 6635 N. 19th Avenue.

“They found well over 300 violations per team,” said Officer James Holmes.

Holmes said that after they documented the findings, which include lack of running water and no air conditioning, some of the buildings are fit to be condemned.

“It’s absolutely horrible that we’re back to the slumlord issues of a few years ago,” said Holmes.

“A lot of the tenants are actually refugees and so what makes it difficult for us, even under those conditions, they are still better, than the conditions they may have left,” he added.

Police officials said they hope this will empower these refugees to speak with their sponsors and hopefully start a conversation about their tenant rights in America… Read more here

An article at AZfamily has more details

PHOENIX — Tenants at the Woodbridge Apartment complex in Phoenix are outraged over what they call deplorable, dangerous and unhealthy living conditions…

Around the complex, there are dozens of dead animals, staircases in shambles, lofts with holes in the floor, flooding and rotted porches. Some tenants said they haven’t had air conditioning in about two weeks… Read more here


PHOENIX — The city of Phoenix is investigating whether property managers and owners of an apartment complex off of 19th Avenue are violating the Arizona Tenant Act.

People who live at the Terra Villa apartments complained of rats, mildew, mold, leaking roofs, lack of or intermittent, air conditioning, a pool full of algae, and bed bugs…

Several churches are putting elderly and very young tenants in shelters. Delight Diehn, an advocate from Lutheran Social Services went to the complex to educate tenants about their rights.

“Some of the conditions I observed may not be in line with the contract signed for the Arizona Landlord/Tenant Act,” she said… Read more here

Posted in bed bugs, housing, housing, substandard, Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest, Phoenix, rats and roaches | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Another apartment house fire, this time in Louisville

Posted by Christopher Coen on April 16, 2012

Slum lords are notorious for failing to address maintenance issues. One result of this is the danger of fire (and here) due to failure of landlords to keep up the premises. A Nepali refugee family found this out the hard way last Wednesday in Louisville. A note at the Catholic Charities Louisville website identifies one of the families displaced by the fire as refugees:

Catholic Charities (Louisville, KY) – The Hari Subedi refugee family of six, resettled by Catholic Charities about a year and half ago, was one of the families displaced in the Buechel Bank Road Apartment fire today. While they and other residents lost everything, there were no injuries due to the fire.

The Subedi family did not need emergency shelter and are currently living with another Nepali refugee family… Read more here

A tenant in the apartment where the fire started said she awoke to a pop and found a socket beside her daughter’s bed on fire. She claims she began telling her landlord of faulty sockets when she moved into her apartment two years ago. The landlord allegedly placed tape over sockets in the apartment’s kitchen and told her an electrician would repair them, yet an electrician never came to the apartment to inspect the sockets. An article at the Louisville Courier-Journal has more:

Officials are investigating a fire that destroyed a building and displaced eight families Wednesday afternoon at an apartment complex in the 2100 block of Buechel Bank Road…

…Chrishawna Johnson, who was asleep in the apartment where the fire started, said she believes the fire was caused by an electrical short.

I heard a pop and I jumped up,” Johnson said. “When I came out of my room, my daughter’s bedroom was on fire. The socket beside her bed was on fire.”

Johnson said she began telling her landlord — whom she could not identify — of faulty sockets when she moved into her apartment two years ago. The landlord placed tape over sockets in the apartment’s kitchen and told Johnson an electrician would repair them, Johnson said.

An electrician never came to the apartment to inspect the sockets, Johnson said.

A message left at Willowbrook’s leasing office was not immediately returned Wednesday.

No sprinklers were present in the building, and no fire hydrants are on the property… Read more here

Posted in apartment building fires, Catholic Charities of Louisville Inc., housing, housing, substandard, Louisville, Nepali Bhutanese | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Legal help group in Australia assisting refugees with opportunistic landlords

Posted by Christopher Coen on April 14, 2012

As in the US refugee resettlement program, refugees in Australia are being resettled into housing often run by landlords looking for an opportunity to make an extra profit with tenants who do not understand their rights or fight back. In the Melbourne metropolitan area in Australia’s state of Victoria, a legal help group is helping some of those refugees to file complaints. An article in the Maribyrnong-Leader publication has the story:

REFUGEES are being forced to live in horrific housing conditions across the west, a new report reveals.

The Making It Home: Refugee Housing in Melbourne’s West document exposes how some of the most vulnerable people in society are being exploited by dodgy landlords and real estate agents.

The Footscray Community Legal Centre has detailed personal accounts from refugee and migrant clients, including loss of bond money, unwarranted repair payments, dilapidated housing structures and forced evictions.

The centre assisted them with more than 300 legal problems for housing and opened 88 files in 18 months.

Ethiopian Khalid Muslih said he was ordered to vacate a property in Tarneit for alleged outstanding rental payments despite always paying on time…

…Mr Muslih, living with his wife and son, said he decided to vacate the premises despite providing proof of payments.

Community [lawyer] Laura Berta said real estate agents often ignored pleas from refugees for repairs.

Refugee tenants make easy targets because of their language difficulties and lack of understanding of the system,” Ms Berta said.

We helped an Iraqi family who lived with a collapsed roof for a month and a Burmese family who survived the winter with no heating or hot water.”… Read more here

Posted in Australian refugee resettlement prgm, housing, housing, substandard | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Refugees Connect With A Slumlord In New Haven

Posted by Christopher Coen on January 23, 2012

In New Haven three refugee cases, including a family of eleven, were displaced after their apartments were condemned due to broken pipes and black mold contamination. The city housing inspector said his office previously cited the landlord for violations at other properties. An article in the New Haven Independent explains the situation:

When kids living in a Nash Street house kept showing up at the hospital with respiratory problems, city housing inspector Rafael Ramos went to their home and found black mold covered the bedroom walls of an apartment holding 11 Congolese refugees.

Ramos condemned 17 Nash St.‘s first floor on Dec. 22. The family has since been living in a hotel—at the Nash Street landlord’s expense—until they can find another place to live.

This month, Ramos returned and condemned the second floor, removing two other refugees who were living there, after pipes burst on the third floor…

…“In the seven years I’ve been doing this, this has been our most serious problem,” said Chris George, the head of Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services (IRIS). That organization helped settle the Congolese family in New Haven when it first arrived more than two years ago…

…Now IRIS is reconsidering some of its policies, looking to see if the period of supervision of new refugees should be extended to ensure the safety and success of settlements. And the city is looking to work more closely with IRIS to insure that other newcomers to the United States don’t end up in similar straits…

…The property slipped through the cracks of the city’s Residential Licensing Program. That program is designed to ensure that the city safeguards the living conditions of all renters, even if—like some new immigrants—they don’t speak English well or otherwise aren’t equipped to complain about their situation…

…George said he heard about the problems from neighbors. “I visited the family a couple of times. I met with them in the backyard to go over the problems. I never went into the house. I realize now that was a mistake.”…

…on Dec. 22, Ramos got a call from a medical anthropologist working at the Yale-New Haven Children’s Hospital, who said he had visited 17 Nash St. after kids living there kept showing up at the hospital with respiratory problems.

Ramos visited the house and went into the bedrooms he hadn’t visited earlier. He took pictures of what he found there: Black mold covering the walls, right next to beds where children slept.

Somehow moisture was entering the home through the walls, seeping in and warming up, making it an ideal environment for mold growth. Airborne mold spores were then making the children sick. Ramos immediately condemned the first floor…

…LCI returned earlier this month after pipes burst in the third floor. The furnace apparently broke, lowering temperatures and bursting pipes, Ramos said. LCI removed two single men—also refugees—living on the second floor.

Ramos said LCI has previously cited the [landlord] for violations at other properties. He said what happened at 17 Nash St. is a perfect example of why the residential licensing program is important. “This family didn’t know that they could complain without retribution. They didn’t know we have ordinances in place to protect their health and safety.”… Read more here

Posted in children, Congolese, housing, Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services (IRIS), Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services (IRIS), New Haven, safety | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Post Resettlement Years For Refugees in the Twin Cities

Posted by Christopher Coen on January 22, 2012

Slumlords in the Twin Cities continue their wicked ways, with refugees and other immigrants making an easy target. A landlord in St. Paul allegedly used threats in an attempt to silence tenants — who now fear imminent eviction. An article in the Pioneer Press explains what’s happening:

For years, residents of Westminster Court in St. Paul have complained about rodents, bugs and dilapidated conditions at their apartment complex.

During a recent inspection, city officials recorded some 600 code violations at the 1205 and 1225 Westminster St., near Maryland Avenue and Interstate 35E.

Now, residents are walking a tightrope as they beg city officials for help. They just want their homes fixed, tenants say. But if problems persist, they fear the [apartments] could be ordered vacated.

“If they closed [them] down, that would make us homeless,” said tenant Joe Parker.

[It has] become something of a Catch-22 for the St. Paul City Council and other city officials, who are eager to clamp down on the problem properties without unduly punishing the tenants, most of whom are low-income immigrants or ethnic minorities with children.

Tenants say they’ve been paying market rent to put up with failing heating systems, bedbugs, rodents, damaged walls, doors with no locks, piling garbage, mold, poor sanitation and illegally overcrowded apartments.

A Nov. 21 city fire inspection on a handful of units found 48 code violations, ranging from missing floor tiles to extension cords used in lieu of permanent electrical wiring. Those items later were found to be the tip of the iceberg…

…Several apartments were “condemned as unfit for human habitation,” mostly as a result of bedbug infestations

Both are in foreclosure, and city officials say the listed owners – Randall T. Chun and Peggy J. Chun of St. Paul, Mark and Lisa Marie Thomas of Woodbury, and Pelimar Properties of Grand Avenue in St. Paul – have been uncooperative and unresponsive…

…Several tenants said they were notified through an intermediary, a handyman they know only as Roberto, that if they spoke to the city, they would be removed from the [apartments] or referred to immigration authorities.

Resident Halima Eidl, who recalled such threats, said she and other tenants also received a letter from Peggy Chun telling them they would be fined $50 late fees if they stopped paying rent, as several have in reaction to the conditions.

“This money, I don’t want to give it to her. These are human beings,” said Eidl, who said most of her neighbors are Mexican or Somali immigrants. “She’s taking advantage of the people….Last weekend, when I was cooking with my kids, my oven blew up.”… Read more here

Posted in bed bugs, housing, Somali, Twin Cities | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Government agency & its resettlement contractor work to silence refugee’s voice

Posted by Christopher Coen on June 30, 2011


Time and again when I’ve found refugees living in deplorable conditions and receiving sub-par resettlement services I’ve noticed government agency partners working in unison with private resettlement contractors to stonewall, and to whitewash refugees’ complaints. An article by a journalist at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation illustrates this same phenomena at work on the other side of the Pacific Ocean. Government oversight staff and their contractors’ primary concern seems to be protecting their reputations and careers, and secondarily, concern for refugees’ welfare. Instead of spending their time asking themselves why they’ve failed refugees they instead focus their energy on defense, PR, and silencing refugees’ voices. Here is an exerpt from the article:

Four months after he touched down in Australia, Clement Saidi says he’s finally arrived…

The flight from Tanzania, where Clement and his family [Congolese refugees from a pygmy tribe] had spent 12 years in a refugee camp, should have meant an end to squalor.

Instead, the Humanitarian Resettlement Program provided them with what was effectively slum housing.

Theirs was among five homes found by an Ernst and Young report commissioned by the Immigration Minister Chris Bowen to be in a ‘state of disrepair’.

One of these homes was deemed uninhabitable. There was ‘no hot water, holes in the roof, window panes missing in a bedroom for children and wholly inadequate heating’…

I found Clement, his wife and three of their children. My meeting with them was arranged by Sister Diana Santleben, a feisty refugee advocate. She’s had a series of battles with Navitas, the company which holds the contract for refugee resettlement services in the Hunter region. She and the local MP Sharon Grierson have for years been raising concerns about the service provided, and now she says openly that she’s on a mission to get the company out of the refugee housing business.

I was there to follow up on the recommendations in the Ernst and Young report. I wanted to meet for myself some of the people affected.

Simple, right? Apparently not.

Clement Saidi’s story almost didn’t make it to air.

After I interviewed him I called Navitas, whose subcontractor Resolve FM was until very recently responsible for accommodation services for refugees in the region.

The Ernst and Young report on the services they provided did not, in Chris Bowen’s words, ‘make for pretty reading’.

In addition to the inadequate housing, rents were often well above market rates and there were suggestions that refugees had been overcharged for repairs and utilities. The Department of Immigration was criticised too, for its management of the issues.

The Minister put the contractors and Departmental staff on notice, ordered a forensic audit of Resolve FM and a nationwide review of refugee resettlement services.

When I called Navitas the reaction was defensive. The company accused me of not having had consent from the refugee family to interview them. This was before they even knew which family we were talking about. They found out soon enough, by calling around all possible suspects. Navitas suggested Sister Diana had forced Clement Saidi into speaking to me. I replied that I had indeed obtained informed consent.

I clearly identified myself, did not misrepresent the ABC and informed Clement when the recording began and ended.

The company said it was very concerned about the fact that no interpreter was present at the interview. Clement’s English is limited, but I was confident I would be able to use small sections of the interview to illustrate his story…

I found myself getting a lecture from Navitas on what it meant to interview someone who has limited English.

The refugee may not have expressed himself correctly, the company said. It was important to treat these people with respect. Did I understand how his knowledge of English compared with mine? Refugees were vulnerable, the company said.

After I talked to Navitas, they talked to Sandi Logan. Mr Logan is the Immigration Department’s spokesman…

My experience with Clement Saidi was increasingly beginning to suggest that the Immigration Department and its contractor see similar threat levels even when the media speaks to a refugee who is not in detention.

“Shd we be concerned?” Sandi Logan tweeted. “Journalist w nun i/views African refugee today. No informed consent provided. Refugee says journo ‘was from department’.”

This seemed to indicate that the Department was prepared to go public with an accusation solely on the word of Navitas, without asking the journo concerned – me.

Mark Colvin tweeted back to ask Logan if he’d checked this version of the events with the reporter. “We’re emailing,” Sandi Logan tweeted and promptly sent me an email.

In it, he gave a briefing on multicultural settings and expressed his concern about my treatment of Clement Saidi, because he said he was “responsible for our service providers’ clients’ well-being in their media interactions.”

It was hard not to be sceptical. Where was the concern when these same people were languishing in appalling over-priced and over-crowded accommodation?…

Whatever you think of the rights and wrongs of that discussion, let’s be clear.

Clement Saidi has been accepted as a refugee…

His days of not being free to speak should have ended the moment he set foot in this country…

Refugees like Clement Saidi are people, with faces and voices – and opinions – of their own.

Isn’t it time the Government – and the companies it pays handsomely to look after them – stopped trying quite so hard to stop us seeing and hearing them?

Barbara Miller is a reporter with ABC Radio Current Affairs and regular contributor to AM, The World Today and PM. Read more here

Hear the radio report and read a related article on the ABC Network.

Posted in Australian refugee resettlement prgm, Congolese, furnishings, lack of, household items, missing or broken, housing, housing, substandard, neglect, openess and transparency in government, public/private partnership, Sudanese | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Australia tries American-style refugee resettlement, with shady private contractors

Posted by Christopher Coen on May 1, 2011

Slumlord housing in Newcastle, Australia

Reports of a refugee resettlement private contractor abusing and neglecting refugees deepen in Australia as an investigation began. We first covered the case a month ago, in posts here and here. (Australia has been in transition from a refugee resettlement program centered on government agency services to a new arrangement with private contractors, similar to how we resettle refugees in the US.)  Aside from both a Catholic nun’s and an MP’s (Member of Parliament – equivalent to a US Congressperson) previous allegations that a resettlement contractor placed refugees in severely substandard housing with exorbitant prices – and then did a cover-up to fool investigators – now come reports of resettlement case workers stealing money from Congolese refugee clients. Another allegation is that the resettlement contractor did not take a young, pregnant refugee mother to a doctor until she gave birth to her child – “No early sort of prenatal services at all”, says the local MP. Read and listen to the following radio program about the case from media outlet ABC Newcastle:

MARK COLVIN: Staff at one Australia’s biggest providers of refugee services have been accused of stealing money from newly arrived refugees and providing them with sub-standard housing at exorbitant rents.

An investigation into the allegations started in the New South Wales city of Newcastle today.

There’d been persistent complaints from refugees and advocates before the Immigration Minister, Chris Bowen, announced the inquiry into the company, Navitas.

The final push came when the local Labor MP
put in a call to the Minister and convinced him to act.

But the Minister’s investigation comes just one month after the Government renewed Navitas’s lucrative refugee services contract.

Wendy Carlisle reports.

WENDY CARLISLE: Congolese refugees who’ve been re-settled in Newcastle say it’s been a grim experience. Exorbitant rents for houses in atrocious condition. Smashed windows, leaking gutters, broken awnings, ripped carpets, no hot water and in some cases, no functioning toilets…

…SHARON GRIERSON: Things like a young mother about to have a baby who had never been taken to a doctor or any medical service until the birth of her child. No early sort of prenatal services at all…

…WENDY CARLISLE: For the last three days, investigators from Ernst & Young have been in Newcastle, interviewing the 20 families in the care of Navitas; a company which has won tens of millions of dollars worth of Government contracts in migrant and refugee settlement services around Australia.

Kwabo Balende from Newcastle’s Congolese community says refugees have been complaining about Navitas for years but the Government hasn’t listened.

KWABO BALENDE: Before this contract to be renewed we started complaining because we didn’t believe that this contract can be sent back to these people.

WENDY CARLISLE: And it’s not just the accommodation that’s causing concern. Kwabo Balende alleges that Navitas case workers have been stealing money from the refugees when they withdraw money for them from ATMs.

KWABO BALENDE: Now when she wanted to pick money from the ATM machine she asked the caseworker to help me and the caseworker asks for the password. He asked me how much do you want? The lady say I need 100. When the caseworker come to the machine he pick out 200, he put 100 in his pocket and he give back 100 to the client. Some of them are stealing money and it is very serious case here… Read more here

…and another ABC Newcastle article here:

A refugee support worker says interviews with refugees this week in Newcastle have been an “eye opener” for the firm investigating claims they are being poorly treated.

Ernst and Young is due to conclude interviews today with refugee families who say they have been provided substandard accommodation, with little access to support services.

Sister Di Santleben says refugees are happy they have finally had a chance to explain their plight to the authorities.

“If you thought up a plan that would disempower people, make them isolated, increase their sense of insecurity, all those things, this system has lead to those outcomes,” she said… Read more here

I hope that Australians will begin to view this website to see what they’re in store for with their new refugee resettlement program that focuses on private contractors and light government oversight.

Posted in abuse, Australian refugee resettlement prgm, Catholic, Congolese, furnishings, lack of, household items, missing or broken, housing, housing, substandard, late health screenings, public/private partnership, Sudanese | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Human rights lawyer to help refugees in Newcastle

Posted by Christopher Coen on April 13, 2011

The Australian Newcastle Herald newspaper reported that refugee advocates have found a human rights lawyer to assist refugee clients of the refugee resettlement contractor Navitas consortium. The Australian federal government recently renewed the contractor’s 3-year contract even though it has been placing refugee clients in run-down housing with broken plumbing and appliances, and with exorbitant rental rates. A Josephite nun, Diana Santleben, warned the federal government about the problems in February before the contract was renewed.

HUMAN rights lawyer George Newhouse is considering a possible class action against Navitas and the federal government on behalf of refugee families living in Newcastle.

Local refugee advocates engaged the high-profile legal identity to help them pursue claims that refugees were living in squalor with few support services under the government’s resettlement program.

Navitas subsidiary, the Australian College of Languages, recently had its contract to run the program in Newcastle renewed.

Mr Newhouse said he was disturbed by the reports coming from Newcastle.

‘‘From the evidence I’ve seen there is clearly evidence of an ongoing problem in Newcastle,’’ Mr Newhouse..said.

‘‘I am going to assist refugees and refugee advocates in obtaining action they can take against either or both Navitas or the department [of Immigration and Citizenship].

‘‘I would not rule out a class action on their behalf.’’

Refugee advocates rallied outside refugee properties in Sandgate and Shortland yesterday in support of improved living conditions and lower rent for refugees settled in the government program.

‘‘This is not something against landlords, consumerism or private enterprise,’’ Penola House volunteer Sister Diana Santleben said… Read more here

Posted in Australian refugee resettlement prgm, Catholic, churches, Congolese, household items, missing or broken, housing, housing, substandard, neglect, public/private partnership, Sudanese | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »