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Wichita launches H.O.M.E. Program

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H.O.M.E. Program: Housing Outreach Mentorship Education 

Moving to a new country can be an overwhelming and isolating experience for anyone. Refugees, who are forced to flee their homes due to conflict, violence and persecution, face particularly acute cultural, emotional, and financial challenges during the resettlement process. The IRC in Wichita, with the support of the local community, works to welcome and support these newly-arrived families as they rebuild their lives in Kansas.  

The HOME Program pairs community and/or faith-based groups directly with refugee families resettled by the IRC in Wichita. In collaboration with the IRC, HOME teams assist the Wichita team to complete home set-ups, provide targeted financial assistance and offer ongoing mentorship to a refugee family for six months. 

HOME Welcome

Photo: JonathanMcBride

Upon arrival, refugees can feel disoriented and alone HOME teams help welcome them to Kansas in two ways: apartment set-ups and airport pick-ups. Teams will purchase or donate in-kind furniture, household items, and groceries and then together help IRC staff set-up an apartment. A small group of HOME team representatives may also accompany the caseworker to the airport to welcome the family to the United States.

HOME Subsidy

Refugees are provided with funding to cover their first 30 days in the U.S. and IRC connects families to ongoing financial assistance programs once that funding is exhausted. HOME teams contribute $750-$2,500 which is used to provide direct assistance to subsidize the family’s housing expenses for five months. The emergency housing fund supports the most vulnerable individuals and families in meeting their basic needs HOME teams may also raise additional funds to provide direct financial support to their family, in coordination with IRC staff.

HOME Mentorship

While the IRC provides cultural orientation classes and community navigation services, most refugees benefit from additional one-on-one support with navigating U.S. systems and understanding the culture. For at least two hours per week, HOME teams act as guides and allies. Example activities include visiting the local library, going grocery shopping and riding the bus together.

Levels of Support 

The Wichita office offers four different options for groups interested in the HOME Program 

  1. Level 1: Teams provide rent subsidy, mentorship and items for housing set-up
  2. Level 2: Teams provide mentorship and items for housing set-up
  3. Level 3: Teams provide rent subsidy and items for housing set-up
  4. Level 4: Teams provide rent subsidy OR items for housing set-up

Support for HOME Teams

The IRC in Wichita is committed to ensuring HOME teams have the support and guidance needed to make this experience positive and impactful. Because ongoing communication and collaboration with IRC staff is key, HOME teams receive:

  • Initial orientation: Upon enrollment in the program, HOME teams participate in an orientation that covers the basics of refugee resettlement, cultural communication, and expectations of the program. 
  • Continual one-on-one support: Throughout the mentorship period, an IRC staff member is available to troubleshoot issues, provide guidance, and provide updates to volunteer groups. 
  • Meet-up opportunities: The IRC team will host regular opportunities for mentor groups to meet each other and share best practices, and for mentors and their families to meet other mentor-mentee groups.  

Raising the H.O.M.E. subsidy

The subsidy provided by HOME teams will provide direct assistance to the family they are working with. Teams are encouraged to utilize Crowdrise to raise their HOME subsidy. 

Ready to learn more?

  • E-mail VolunteerKS [at] Rescue.org (subject: HOME%20Program, body: I%20am%20interested%20in%20learning%20more%20about%20the%20HOME%20program.)  or fill out an online HOME Program application. 
  • Please note: All HOME Program volunteers are required to complete the IRC in Wichita's volunteer onboarding process. This includes attending a general information session, completing a background and reference check, and attending a one hour HOME Program team training.