Soaring rent prices are leaving refugees in NorCal at risk of being displaced once again.

As we approach World Refugee Day on June 20, we're raising support for our Soft Landing Fund to provide emergency housing and rental assistance to those who need it most. 

Check out this Q&A with Maranda Giron, housing expert at the IRC in Sacramento, about the barriers facing newcomers and how you can help.

1. How does the IRC find housing for refugees?  

The process of finding housing begins the moment we’re notified of a family’s arrival—typically only a few days to a few weeks before their plane lands. Our goal is to find them safe, affordable housing with access to things like public transportation, schools, and grocery stores—ideally before the family arrives so they can move directly into their new home. 

This includes developing partnerships with local landlords open to renting to refugees, searching available inventory, and leveraging connections to other organizations with access to affordable housing options.  

This process can be quite challenging—especially given the ongoing affordable housing crisis here in California. That’s one reason we created the Soft Landing Fund, which leverages community support to provide emergency housing and rental assistance to families facing extreme difficulty.  

Click here to donate to the Soft Landing Fund so refugee families can remain in their homes.

2. What are the some of the primary challenges?  

Newcomers face many unique housing barriers, but the primary obstacle—affordability— isn’t unique to refugees at all. Given the competitive market, the cost of housing has been steadily rising, making it increasingly difficult for refugees to find affordable housing—especially larger families requiring more bedrooms.  

Many refugees arrive with little more than they can carry and receive no public housing benefits upon arrival. Even those who qualify for a small stipend—roughly $1,200 per person—there’s still a significant gap, and it continues to grow over the years.  

Once we find an affordable unit, other challenges arise. Most applications require things like credit history, rental references, and other documentation refugees may not have immediately upon arrival. At worst, this can lead to housing discrimination. At best, property owners may charge higher fees if they consider their applications at all. 

Of course, there’s also the ongoing challenge of keeping up with rising rent prices. Many newcomers are paying more than 50 to 60% of their household income on housing—far above the maximum recommended rent to income ratio of 30%. This high rent burden places them in financially challenging situations, even if they are working full-time jobs. 

That’s why our Soft Landing Fund is so important: it offers temporary support to families working towards self-reliance. This stability is crucial for a successful life.  

Click here to donate now.

3. How does the IRC in NorCal help families overcome these challenges? 

The IRC's goal is to empower refugees to become self-sufficient so they can thrive in the U.S. Housing is one component of our holistic approach, which also assists with learning English, finding employment and education, managing budgets and household expenses, and more.  

These efforts integrate with our comprehensive housing services, which offer support including:

4. How can individuals and organizations help refugees facing housing challenges in Northern California? 

There are several ways individuals and organizations can support refugees in establishing the foundation for a flourishing life, including:  

  1. Donate to Soft Landing: We're in urgent need of community support to offer temporary emergency housing and rental assistance to the most vulnerable families. Click here to give nowit's the most effective way to support those facing eviction and becoming unhoused.
  2. Refer Landlords: If you know landlords who are willing to rent to refugees, refer them to local resettlement agencies or employment coordinators. Click here to access our referral form and we'll follow up soon. 
  3. Donate Household Supplies and Furniture: Providing essential household supplies—bathroom and kitchen kits, bedding, and gently used furniture—helps reduce financial burdens and housing instability. Click the links below for current needs in your region: