Newly decorated children’s bedroom
A new home
Photo: IRC IN NY

The IRC in NYNJ is starting the new year by reflecting on the tremendous support of its partners, donors, and volunteers. Under the Afghan Placement and Assistance Program, (APA), the relief program for Afghan entrants determined by the Biden Administration, the IRC in NYNJ launched a new APA case management initiative for Afghan families in fall 2021. The Resettlement & Placement Unit (R&P) ensures APA cases receive immediate support, including housing, food deliveries, and access to social benefits. With the high level of APA and existing cases, the IRC has encountered the staggering competition of the housing market, paired with the urgency to assist and house newcomers.  

The struggle to find and secure safe and affordable housing has been a defining challenge in the role of R&P. The housing market is already a complicated system, riddled with negotiation, market competition, and high prices. While it's designed to give people options, it can also be stressful for refugee and immigrant families to make decisions about their new homes. 

Despite these challenges, the IRC in NYNJ has worked proactively to place families in safe homes. Thankfully, IRC partners have also aided the IRC in NYNJ in supporting arrivals with this phase. IRC partners have supported clients by

1) securing household basics, amenities, and furniture,

2) participating in the hands-on move-in work, and

3) extending a warm welcome to families.  

The IRC in NY thanks YOU and its partners for helping refugee families resettle into their new homes. Without YOU, these initiatives could not come to fruition. In total, between October 2021 through the end of December 2021, the IRC in NY has helped move in and house 52 Afghan individuals. The IRC in NY is taking the time to extend its appreciation to its partners, many of whom are active agents of change in their community and beyond. The IRC in NY collaborated with many partners including Ansche Chesed, First Presbyterian of Garden City, Hearts & Homes, Neighbours for Refugees, Open Door Exchange, Ruth’s Refuge, and Veterans Rebuilding Life, to name a few.

The IRC in NY encourages you to learn a bit more about them. The following three partners have conversed with the IRC to talk about their mission, values, and their efforts to support refugees with housing:  

Hearts & Homes for Refugees, founded in 2016, is a volunteer-driven non-profit rooted in grassroots organizing and the deep commitment to welcome refugee communities. Founder Kathie O’Callaghan explains how Hearts & Homes aim to resettle, assist and advocate for refugees.  Resettling new arrivals with what they need to rebuild and become independent is the goal of this six-year-old community organization located in the Lower Hudson Valley of NY. Hearts & Homes depends on and promotes the community sponsorship mode that is anchored in collective partnerships and collaborative hands-on volunteering to provide a strong network of support for new American neighbors. Their volunteers find, furnish and support moves into housing, provide welcome meals, and more. Hearts & Homes aims to shift the paradigm of refugee resettlement by embracing grassroots community organizations that are doing the work to lend visibility to the refugee experience. The IRC connected around two years ago with Hearts & Homes where former IRC staffer, Amy Robertson is helping Hearts & Homes lead the welcoming movement in the Lower Hudson Valley. The IRC in NY is grateful for the hands-on support of Hearts & Homes and believes in its vision to spearhead a Welcome Movement.    

Neighbors for Refugees (NFR) is a non-profit and resettlement organization based in Westchester and founded in 2016. They provide key services to refugee arrivals, helping them settle into their neighborhoods by assisting them with employment (business startups, or job search) and ESL support. Their perspective on volunteering is client-facing, ensuring that volunteers are proactive about creating well-tailored and informed solutions that align with clients’ needs. This beginner’s mindset grounds Neighbors for Refugee volunteers in their hands-on work. As a community sponsor, the NFR is proud of the growing goodwill of the community in supporting its efforts to move in families one home at a time.  They also strongly believe that refugees have the right to advocate for their needs and participate in the community. This supports their journey towards self-sufficiency and resilience. In addition to its resettlement work, NFR supports 1-2 families a month, in connection with other agencies, with housing placements, ensuring families are connected to as many resources as possible to feel comfortable and safe at home and in their new community. The IRC in NY is grateful to have their assistance with housing setups including their donations of houseware/furniture, and their hands-on support during move-ins.  

Veterans Rebuilding Life (VRL) started in 2011 and is a volunteer-driven non-profit with the mission to support veterans in their reintegration journey. Through case management, family and individual mentorship, and medical missions, VRL provides relief to 500-1500 clients each year. VRL’s unique mission extends to the community, providing the opportunity for veterans to give back to their communities and foster one-on-one connections through numerous community initiatives which are pitched, planned, and coordinated by veteran volunteers. The IRC in NY is thankful for VRL’s impact-oriented and hands-on network of veterans who already volunteer to support resettlement agencies and grassroots communities across the city. VRL has supported the IRC in NY with move-ins, helping to organize in-kind donations, and welcoming refugee communities. This allyship has been vital in creating a welcoming environment for refugee families, and by extension in supporting veterans’ mental health and reintegration journey. 

Move in truck behind IRC staff, partners, and volunteers.
Move-in Day
Photo: IRC IN NY

Once again, the IRC in NY gives thanks to ALL of its partners for helping with move-ins, offering prompt solutions to ensure homes are equipped with necessities, and being a light of community inspiration. The number of expected move-ins for all newcomers, including the Afghan community, will continue to increase as families begin the new year in pursuit of change and restoration. New homes will provide a pillar of relief to refugee families, who can now focus on their long-term economic, education, and immigration goals.