Statement Immigrant

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					                                                                                 Community Shelter Board
                                                                                                   Summary
                                                   New Immigrant Families & Housing Needs in Franklin County



Community Problem Statement:
New immigrant families, particularly secondary migrant Somali families, are arriving in
Columbus and Franklin County in growing numbers, often with no resettlement plan and
limited resources. Successful resettlement by new immigrant families can be
challenging given issues related to family size, limited income, interpretation needs,
transportation, and unfamiliarity with Central Ohio. Problems are compounded for new
immigrant families when resettlement is poorly planned and when community
resettlement resources are insufficient. As a result, new immigrant families, most often
of Somali origin, are migrating to Columbus from their original resettlement city and
attempting to access homeless shelter services in order to obtain housing and to meet
other needs.
The arrival of new immigrant families and the community challenges associated with
meeting their needs are not a new phenomenon. According to a recent study of
immigrants and refugees in Franklin County, from 2000 to 2003, the foreign-born
population in Franklin County (both citizens and immigrants) increased by 31.6
percent1.
The family emergency shelter system in Franklin County has a history of serving
immigrant families who settle in Franklin County and subsequently experience a
housing crisis. At the same time, the Community Shelter Board and family shelter
providers have been clear that the emergency shelter system is not a means for
resettlement for families wanting to relocate to Franklin County. The emergency
shelter system in Franklin County is designed and funded to meet the needs of
residents of Franklin County who require immediate, emergency overnight shelter and
have no safe alternative housing. The YWCA Family Center, our community’s “front-
door” for homeless families, is the primary point of contact for families experiencing
homelessness. The emergency shelter system is not designed or funded to meet the
resettlement needs of families who are simply relocating from other areas (in some
instances leaving behind housing).
In 2005, the rising number of Somali families seeking emergency shelter caused
concern at the YWCA and within the emergency shelter system. From December 2004,
through April 2005, there were 37 Somali families served through the YWCA Interfaith
Hospitality Network. Upon assessing these families it was learned that a significant
number had arrived in Franklin County as secondary immigrants from other U.S.
communities, and were intending to use the emergency shelter system for relocation
purposes. In many instances this was based on referrals made by refugee and
immigration assistance agencies in other communities.
As a result of this influx, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS)
requested that representatives from both the National Somali Bantu Project (NSBP) and

1
 Franklin County, Ohio, Immigrants and Refugees: A Profile of the Population, Resources, and Services,
Community Research Partners and Community Refugee and Immigration Services, December 2005.
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                                                                                 Community Shelter Board
                                                                                                   Summary
                                                   New Immigrant Families & Housing Needs in Franklin County

Mercy Housing visit Columbus to assess the situation and help develop a plan for
resettlement housing. Other state and federal officials were also notified and asked to
discourage other communities who received federal funding from referring families to
Franklin County when no viable housing plan or resources were in place.
Concurrently, a residency policy was implemented to clarify the family sheltering
system’s role as a provider of homeless services for Franklin County families and not as
a provider of relocation services (See appendix). Between October 2005 and February
2006, there were 15 families who called or came in to the YWCA Family Center and
were referred to other services due to the residency policy. These statistics are not
specific to immigrant or Somali families, but are for all families that were not considered
residents of Franklin County at the time of their call or visit to the family center.

What Has Been Done to Date:
Based on the research results of NSBP and Mercy Housing, ODJFS concluded that the
creation of a short term tenant-based rental assistance program specifically for Somali
migrants should be facilitated by local resettlement agencies.
The Community Refugee and Immigration Services (CRIS) submitted a proposal for
funding in August 2005, to the Federal Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), in order
to provide rental assistance, transportation, job training, case management, and other
short-term services for families resettling in Franklin County. ORR informed CRIS in
early April 2006 that their request for $440,000 needed to be resubmitted with a
restructured budget requesting only $150,000. CRIS was recently notified that the
reduced budget was approved to provide case management, employment and housing
services.
In 2005, the Community Shelter Board sponsored an Immigrant Roundtable discussion
in order to further inform the homeless provider community about immigrant issues.
The YWCA Family Center also worked with several local immigrant and refugee
organizations to formulate a plan to provide referrals for new immigrant families that call
on the YWCA for relocation assistance. The YWCA triage process includes an
extensive interview and referral option discussion to assist families in linking to available
resources. Also, several community agencies that assist immigrant and refugee
families were invited to and have attended monthly Family Provider meetings with family
shelter staff in attendance. Many family shelter staff have gone to great lengths to
negotiate special housing deals to accommodate Franklin County immigrant families
and have served as strong advocates as well.
On May 30, 2006, Director Jim Stowe of the Columbus Community Relations
Commission announced the following short-term plan to address the current and
immediate needs of refugee and immigrants families which are relocating to Columbus
and Franklin County and are not stably housed.
      1. Community Refugee and Immigration Services (CRIS) and US Together will be
         the primary point of contact and service providers.

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                                                                                 Community Shelter Board
                                                                                                   Summary
                                                   New Immigrant Families & Housing Needs in Franklin County

      2. Franklin County Department of Job and Family Services (DJFS) has agreed to
         provide expedited payments to landlords (initial rent and security deposits) for
         refugee families being served by CRIS and US Together via an agreement with
         the CRC.
      3. Two private apartment complexes, the Woods at Northland and Abbey Lane
         Apartments, have agreed to accept and immediately house refugee families
         referred by CRIS and US Together. Both are willing to waive long term lease
         requirements and allow families to move in immediately (more than 100
         vacancies currently) if payment of rent and security deposits is guaranteed by the
         DJFS. The Columbus Apartment Association is also willing to identify additional
         rental housing as needed.
      4. Other special needs housing will be available through the Columbus Housing
         Partnership and the Community Housing Network.
      5. CRC will reimburse CRIS and US Together for motel costs related to providing
         emergency shelter for families who have relocated to Columbus. Up to $20,000
         is available.

Services that are Needed:
According to a survey of immigrant service providers conducted by CRP, “solutions
most frequently cited to address these [service] needs were better reporting systems,
agency coordination, and increased funding.”2 Although the ability to provide housing
relocation assistance was mentioned as a service by several agencies, there are very
limited opportunities for immigrants to access relocation housing and assistance.
Approximately, three to five families, which are not Franklin County residents, contact
the YWCA Family Center each month seeking relocation assistance. This number is
not specific to immigrant families but reflects all contact from non Franklin County
residents desiring to relocate to the area. The YWCA, in its’ role as the central point of
contact for families, depends on viable and available community resources to divert
families not in need of immediate shelter or who are otherwise more appropriately
served through community relocation and resettlement services. A long-term
coordinated community strategy for providing these services is not presently available.
Due to the serious affordable housing shortage, resettlement and relocation agencies
are challenged to assure that new immigrant families are successfully housed upon
arrival in Franklin County. While the short-term plan developed by the CRC may
address the immediate community need, there still appears to be a long-term need for
the following services in addition to supportive services (case management,
employment placement, etc.):
      1. Housing placement, especially larger units appropriate for large families. This
         may also be complicated by a family’s desire to be selective about where they
         reside within our community.

2
    CRP, December 2005.
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                                                                                 Community Shelter Board
                                                                                                   Summary
                                                   New Immigrant Families & Housing Needs in Franklin County

      2. Interim housing financial assistance (initial rental payments, security deposits,
         utility deposits and turn-on fees, etc.), especially for households not eligible for
         DJFS assistance.
      3. Long-term rent subsidies, when the household does not have adequate
         income to support market rents. This will be particularly critical for families which
         are dependent on public assistance.
      4. Emergency motel assistance until housing placement occurs, as needed. With
         a limited pool of funding available, this may quickly be exhausted.
It will also be critical that these efforts are well coordinated among the involved
agencies.

Implementation Plan:
On June 7, 2006, representatives from the City of Columbus, Franklin County Job and
Family Services (FCDJFS), Nationwide Foundation, The Columbus Foundation, United
Way of Central Ohio, YWCA Columbus, and the Community Shelter Board met to
review and discuss immediate and possible future needs. The following next steps to
develop an implementation plan focused on the needs of new immigrant households’
immediate housing needs were agreed upon.
City of Columbus:
           The City Administration will ensure the short-term plan (see page 2) is
            implemented.
                   o     Columbus Community Relations Commission will ensure that its
                         contracted agencies, CRIS and US Together, address housing needs
                         of immigrant families who are not yet stably housed.
                   o     Columbus Community Relations Commission will also work with CRIS to
                         ensure that the recent grant from ORR for case management and interim
                         rent assistance is part of the solution.
           Jim Stowe and Carla Williams-Scott will review relevant issues with
            Mayor Coleman and recommend that the Mayor take the lead in pulling
            together a long term plan.
           The City will examine other possible funding, including Ohio Department of
            Development Homeless Assistance Grant Program funding (applications due
            7/18/06; Continuum of Care certification information due to CSB 6/27/06).
FCDJFS:
           Director Doug Lumpkin will examine process for informing landlords that payment
            is forthcoming.
           Director Lumpkin will examine PRC regulations, identify whether any barriers
            exist to implement City of Columbus plan and whether PRC Plan should
            be amended.
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                                                                                 Community Shelter Board
                                                                                                   Summary
                                                   New Immigrant Families & Housing Needs in Franklin County

           Director Lumpkin will remain open to possible future funding requests.
United Way
           Will remain open to a small funding request for address short term needs.
           Will remain open to possible future funding if long-term plan is under
            development.
Columbus Foundation:
           Will remain open to possible future funding if long-term plan is under
            development.
CSB:
           As requested by the City, CSB will provide technical assistance on program
            development and Ohio Department of Development, Homeless Assistance
            Program funding.
           CSB will provide meeting notes and follow up support to convene a future
            meeting if needed.




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                                                                                 Community Shelter Board
                                                                                                   Summary
                                                   New Immigrant Families & Housing Needs in Franklin County


Appendix

      1.    Key Service Providers
      2.    YWCA Family Center: County Residency Policy




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                                                                                 Community Shelter Board
                                                                                                   Summary
                                                   New Immigrant Families & Housing Needs in Franklin County


Key Service Providers:
Community Refugee and Immigration Services (CRIS)
Community Refugee and Immigration Services (CRIS) provides job placement, development
and readiness skills as well as job fairs. They can also provide English for Speakers of Other
Languages (ESOL) classes for adults. They will assist with representation and advocacy in
immigration legal services and provide technical assistance to others that serve immigrants.
They have interpretation services and provide outreach services. For refugees that are
resettling here, they provide reception and placement as the Ohio affiliate of Church World
Service (CWS). They also provide case management and currently have limited ability to
provide short-term hotel vouchers and resettlement assistance due to the City of Columbus
making available up to $20,000 for hotel vouchers for up to six nights of emergency hotel stay.
Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association (CMAA)
The Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association (CMAA) also provides an array of services such
as English as a Second Language (ESL) classes, job training and placement assistance,
translation, and cultural orientation. Their website also states they participate in the
development of a resettlement plan to provide for immediate housing and other needs.
Horn of Africa Community Center
Horn of Africa Community Center provides interpretation, resettlement services and advocacy
for Somalis. They also assist with immigration and college forms, arranging health care and
limited transportation.
Somali Community Association of Ohio (SCAO)
The Somali Community Association of Ohio (SCAO) provides advocacy, family counseling and
battered women support. They also provide translation and interpretation services as well as
ESL classes. They have elder and youth programs and can help with job readiness and
placement.
Somali Women and Children’s Alliance (SWCA)
Somali Women and Children’s Alliance (SWCA) has several programs to empower Somali
immigrants to rebuild their lives. They have a Somali Community Information Center that
provides print and electronic media to improve the understanding of resettlement issues. They
also have several children’s programs. The SWCA has several projects in development in the
areas of childcare, healthcare, finance, legal, and case management services.
US Together, Inc.
US Together, Inc. provides translation services and help with resettlement housing. They also
provide case management and currently have limited ability to provide short-term hotel
vouchers and resettlement assistance due to the City of Columbus making available up to
$20,000 for hotel vouchers for up to six nights of emergency hotel stay.




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                                                                                 Community Shelter Board
                                                                                                   Summary
                                                   New Immigrant Families & Housing Needs in Franklin County

YWCA COLUMBUS                                                                              HOUSING DEPARTMENT

POLICY

YWCA Columbus
65 South Fourth Street
Columbus, Ohio 43215


PROGRAM:                                           YWCA Family Center

SUBJECT:                                           County Of Residence Eligibility Criteria

EFFECTIVE DATE:                                    October 1, 2005


APPROVED BY:                                       ______________________________________________



Non-discrimination:                   The YWCA values diversity of all types, and therefore will not tolerate discrimination on
                                      the basis of race, religion, color, gender, age, national origin, veteran status, sexual
                                      orientation, or disability.
Purpose:                              The YWCA is awarded funds to provide families in Columbus and Franklin County
                                      temporary shelter and/or assistance to prevent and address homelessness. In order to
                                      ensure contractual compliance and good stewardship of funds awarded for this program,
                                      the YWCA will ensure that families served at the YWCA Family Center meet the
                                      established eligibility criteria for Franklin County residency prior to admission to the
                                      program.
Definition:                           Eligible families include (but are not limited to) families who have established legitimate
                                      residency in Columbus and/or Franklin County prior to becoming homeless. In most
                                      cases, families shall be able to identify an address within Columbus or Franklin County
                                      as their previous residence. Ineligible families include (but are not limited to) families
                                      who knowingly relocate to the Columbus area with no identifiable housing plan in place,
                                      those who relocate to Columbus with the express intent of using the shelter system for
                                      relocation assistance, or those who have housing in this or another county, city, or state.
Policy:                             YWCA staff shall appropriately screen all families seeking entry into the Family Center
                                    for eligibility according to established criteria. Families who do not meet the definition for
                                    Franklin County residency will be referred to services in their county of residence and/or
                                    other appropriate resources, with significant problem-solving and/or assistance from staff
                                    as necessary.
Accountability:                     If a family is determined to be ineligible for services based on failure to meet the residency
                                    criteria, staff shall be required to consult with a Family Center program manager prior to
                                    approving the family for entry into the program. In the event a family is denied admission
                                    to the Family Center based on ineligibility, the staff person shall complete an incident
                                    report and notify the family of their right, and the process for, appealing the decision
                                    according to YWCA policy. The YWCA shall provide a copy of the incident report to the
                                    Community Shelter Board anytime a family is denied entry for this reason.


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