Catholic Charities, which was approved in October to resettle refugees, has been working with the Ithaca City School District, local doctors, and Ithaca Welcomes Refugees to provide new refugees with a smooth transition.

Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs / Sun Staff Writer

Catholic Charities, which was approved in October to resettle refugees, has been working with the Ithaca City School District, local doctors, and Ithaca Welcomes Refugees to provide new refugees with a smooth transition.

January 12, 2017

Afghan Family of Six Refugees To Arrive in Ithaca Under State Dept. Grant

Print More

A family of six from Afghanistan will be the first refugees to find a new home in Ithaca as part of a local charity’s effort to move up to 50 refugees from war-torn countries to the area.

Sue Chaffee, director of the Immigrant Services Program at Catholic Charities of Tompkins and Tioga, said the family’s was the first case reviewed by the charity and they seemed like a good fit, especially because the family already has an acquaintance in the Ithaca area.

“We’ve been saying since October that we’re ready for the first family … so we’re really excited,” Chaffee said.

The U.S. Department of State awarded CCTT with a grant late last year providing the charity $2,025 for each refugee they relocate. More than half of that money is for direct assistance to the refugees, such as buying groceries or covering part of their rent; the rest goes to CCTT for administrative costs.

The family of six is currently in Afghanistan and while their exact arrival date has not been set, the charity is hopeful that they will land at Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport within a month. In order to protect the family’s privacy, Chaffee declined to describe the family in detail or the relationship between the family and their acquaintance in the Ithaca area.

However, Chaffee said, the charity did interview the acquaintance to see how much the friend could help the family navigate their new home. The local connection, who is eager to aid in the family’s arrival, was a big factor in the charity’s confidence that the family would be happy and successful in the region, Chaffee said.

“We don’t expect the U.S. tie to do everything,” Chaffee said, referring to the Ithaca-area friend. But, she added, “they can help with airport reception, interpretation, help [the family] get to the grocery store — those initial tasks that they’ll need.”

Chaffee said they are hoping to find housing for the Afghan family near The Commons or somewhere with frequent TCAT service to downtown, where social services, jobs and basic needs like food are easily accessible.

Finding affordable housing will likely be the most difficult part in relocating the dozens of refugees the charity is hoping to bring to the area. The charity specifically requested larger families in order to avoid competing with students for single-bedroom apartments, said Soren Klaverkamp, refugee resettlement case manager for CCTT.

“It’s been kind of difficult, but we’re hoping that we can find landowners who are compassionate and are looking to support our mission,” Klaverkamp said. “We’re looking for landlords who are looking to open their doors to a new segment of the population.”

Still, he said, finding a three-bedroom house or apartment along a TCAT route for less than $1,200 is proving challenging, so CCTT staff have been contacting property owners and rental agencies directly, in addition to browsing Craigslist and other sites.

Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick ’09 said the only thing stopping Ithaca from being the ideal new home for refugees is the city’s “housing crisis.”

“A lot of communities around the country are excited about the prospect of refugees because they will fill housing that’s vacant,” he said. “That’s not the case here.”

Myrick said that, other than housing, Ithaca is uniquely suited to accommodate refugees, and has been doing so for decades.

“I’m thrilled for this family,” he said. “Removing six people from a warzone is a blessing to be able to do that … and I’m excited for our city that we’re going to continue in what’s now becoming a pretty long tradition of being a sanctuary for people fleeing oppression and violence all over the world.”

Members of the charity will be busy completing online training, preparing services for the family and reviewing additional cases that could be sent their way as they anticipate the family’s arrival.

13 thoughts on “Afghan Family of Six Refugees To Arrive in Ithaca Under State Dept. Grant

  1. Great idea!
    I applaud all that is being done for these innocent victims
    of war!
    I wish there were more areas upstate that had more
    appropriate housing! You are placing them in such
    an expensive area!
    G-d bless you for all that you’ve done!!!

  2. What is wrong with helping families here who can’t afford housing food medical care. I totally disagree with the entire concept. Charity begins at home! ¡!!!!!

  3. Why aren’t we helping our own families in the area that are living below property level!!!! Jobs are being lost at an alarming rate. Where will they work or will they be on public assistance ? Charity begin at home. Families are being adversely affected here by our men and women who are serving our country. Wake up YOU do gooders!!!!

    • Thank you:) Our men and women are already making the ultimate sacrifice by serving in the overseas radical and dangerous countries. This very ambitious endeavor can best be accomplished in the United States of America. LAND OF THE FREE HOME OF THE BRAVE!!!!!!!

      • We are sending US troops where they don’t belong, creating wars. Those conflicts create refugees. If we don’t want to accept refugees, we need to get out of the war business.

        I’m all for helping these 6 people. It’s great to help people in need (especially when US policy put them in their predicament).

  4. Wow….really and after moving to ithaca i becane homless after my husband died and its been over two years what about helping the good people who already live in ithaca…maybe building a detox for the suffering addicts who struggli g with addictions. ..And creating job opportunities. .

  5. Wow and it still continue’s lets first take the time to take care of our own and Fix the already corrupt social services system instead of giving free handouts,second make jobs for whome we have here third become a county that works together with all instead of a liberal County that makes decision’support on what they belive is right and last and for most fix the current city held positions with new seating of people that know what it takes to make ithaca great again

    • We spend tons and tons of money on our US military that goes around the world to places like Afghanistan, creating conflict and blowing stuff up. Then we spend billions more on rebuilding the nation. If you are concerned about waste, talk to Congress and ask them to slash the war machine budget—we would then have fewer refugees attempting to immigrate.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *