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Update from IRC: Afghan Refugees

by | Oct 7, 2021 | Billie's Blog, Asylum, Refugee, Immigration

By Billie K. Fidlin, Director of Outreach & Justice

As our churches continue to pray and explore ways to support the Afghan refugees who are being relocated to our Conference area, we do have new information to share. The International Rescue Commission (IRC) who is working with the Afghan refugees issued the following update on October 6th. The update reads:

Thank you for your interest in supporting the arriving Afghan individuals and families in your community. Your generous offer of providing extra bedrooms in your home to be used as temporary housing is a profound, humanitarian response to the overwhelming needs these Afghan arrivals are facing. We at the IRC in Phoenix strive to make all those we serve— Afghan Special Immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers, and more—feel safe, stable, and welcome in their new communities, and your help in this effort greatly motivates and supports our continued mission.

At this time, the IRC is not able to temporarily house the arriving Afghan families in shared homes. Though the IRC regularly uses hotels and private Airbnbs for temporary accommodations while permanent housing is being secured, we cannot accept offers of shared housing for reasons related to a few important internal policies. First, the IRC follows all federal, state, and local government housing standards to ensure client safety and comfort, and booking private spaces ensures these standards are routinely upheld. On top of these government standards, the IRC has also found that private spaces help individuals and families feel safe and make the best start after experiencing challenging times. Lastly, the IRC has many Covid-19 protocols in place to keep new arrivals and community members healthy, and private spaces remain the safest option for everyone.

Because we so greatly appreciate your strong welcome and know that housing needs are still the biggest challenge and priority, we want to share ways you can directly support the housing of Afghan arrivals in your area:

  • Rental properties: Families will not have the ability to pay a security deposit, pay first/last month’s rent or show social security information for the first few weeks. So we’re looking for landlords who are willing to waive those requirements and rent at a reduced rate or waive/reduce the security deposit. The IRC will pay rent for the initial 2 to 4 months while working with the refugee family on employment and becoming self-sufficient, however IRC is not able to co-sign a lease.
  • The best houses or apartments for new refugee arrivals fit the following criteria:
    • 1, 2, or 3 bedrooms – Separate entrance with door family can lock for privacy
    • Functioning small kitchen
    • Walking distance to a major bus line and grocery store

Thank you for your overwhelming and continued support of the IRC in Phoenix. We and the people we serve are truly grateful for all your contributions that make our communities welcoming and safe for all.

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About the author

Billie K. Fidlin

Billie K. Fidlin is the Director of Outreach & Justice for the Desert Southwest Conference. She is a graduate of Western Michigan University and attended Claremont School of Theology for religious studies. Ms. Fidlin currently serves as the President of the Arizona Faith Network in her second term. She is President & Founder of Whisper n Thunder Inc., and sits on various boards including the Justa Center and the Phoenix Police Department's Faith Advisory Council. Her awards include the UM Foundation for Evangelism 2004 Distinguished Evangelist; 2016 Church Women United / United Nations Human Rights Award; 2018 Servant Leader Award AZ Faith Network; 2022 Southern Poverty Law Center Certificate of Recognition; and 2022-23 Class of Who's Who in America.

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