The IRC in Atlanta secures and furnishes apartments for all newly-arriving refugee families as part of the U.S. Department of State’s Reception and Placement program. In Fiscal Year 2017, the IRC in Atlanta rented 168 apartments on behalf of clients, ensuring 168 safe, new homes for families starting their lives over. Securing this large number of apartments – often with short notice for arrival dates and family size – would not be possible without essential partnerships between the IRC and property management companies like Strategic Management Partners (SMP).
Marc Sanders, Senior Multi-Site Manager for SMP, oversees several Clarkston apartment complexes including Kristopher Woods – a complex with over 200 units of mostly refugee families. Understanding the unique needs of residents, respecting difference and breaking down the cultural barriers is key according to Marc. In the first few days after a family’s arrival, Kristopher Woods staff visit apartments to check-in, introduce themselves and go over their own version of cultural orientation, further emphasizing the intensive cultural orientation programming the IRC in Atlanta provides during the initial resettlement period.
“My job is much more than just making sure families are assigned to an apartment and the lease is signed,” said Marc. With a resident-centered approach to property management, Kristopher Woods offers support to ensure refugees can successfully integrate in their new home. The complex offers a variety of programs and services – some through partnerships with local nonprofits – including an afterschool program, adult English classes, movie nights, and summer activities for children. “We offer the afterschool program four days a week and do English classes at night, it's something that's growing,” Marc explains. “Older students are also teaching and helping a team of volunteers with the younger pupils, it’s great to see.”
Kristopher Woods has been home to refugee families for more than twenty years – one of the first families to live there was resettled by the IRC in Atlanta in 1993. These diverse communities have shaped the landscape of Kristopher Woods over the years in more ways than one – Marc recalls a vast, wasted green space at the complex which residents transformed into a community garden for growing produce, complete with a built-in irrigation system!
“It's very much a partnership, we cannot survive without the refugee community,” said Marc. “Refugee resettlement is a great program, and we are really glad and fortunate to be a part of it.” The IRC in Atlanta is so grateful for partners like SMP, who work with us to support refugees’ successful integration and self-sufficiency.
To learn more about the work of the IRC in Atlanta and for information on how you can get involved with the IRC as a donor or volunteer, please contact Development Manager, Kalie Lasiter, at Kalie.Lasiter [at] Rescue.org or 678-636-8941.