With President Joe Biden’s administration planning to welcome up to 100,000 Ukrainian refugees to the U.S., resettlement agencies are staring down the monumental task of welcoming more refugees amid an affordable housing crisis and a lack of landlords willing to rent to them.
“Where are these guys going to go?” said Laura Osuri, executive director of Homes Not Borders, which works with Maryland’s three resettlement agencies to provide household essentials and other services to refugee families. “We still have Afghans living in hotels because we can’t find housing for them.”
Refugees lack a credit history, stable income and a fixed address – all common requirements to sign a lease.
The Afghan families resettled at Parkview Gardens in Prince George’s County are there because a landlord in Maryland was willing to ignore those shortcomings.
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Prince George’s County Council member Dannielle Glaros hopes more landlords will do the same.
“These folks do have the ability to support themselves,” she said.
“There’s a real opportunity to provide a resource in the community and help support a new family through the toughest trauma they’ve ever experienced,” Glaros said.
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The Biden administration says its working to expand and develop new programs focused on welcoming refugees with family already in the U.S. to make the process easier, but even if counties like Prince George’s are ready and willing to help, Glaros said without adequate housing or landlords willing to ignore the lack of paperwork, they may not be able.
“We need to figure out how we be more nimble on our end … whether that’s local landlords, whether that’s national landlords that own property throughout the country,” she said.