Multicultural News

Resettlement agencies working to house large Afghan families

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Finding permanent housing for some of Camp Atterbury’s larger Afghan families is proving to take a bit of time. With families averaging around seven people, finding housing large enough for these families has created challenges for some of the resettlement agencies.

Thursday is National Immigrants Day. When taking a look at America’s growing diversity, refugees make up a large part of that. While many Hoosiers are stepping up to the plate to help get countless families adjust to live in America, it’s going to take a lot more.

Kouba Bandawal and her family moved to the United States in 1980 as Afghan refugees.

“We were all a young family of seven children at the time. We didn’t fly. We actually walked the country into Pakistan,” she said.

She’s now an Imani Aid board member and volunteers with Exodus Refugee, one of the agencies helping resettle refugees. Bandawal helps with translation and securing housing.

“I must have been on a waiting list for about 15 different apartments. And once they did have one available, when I shared the size of the family, they were like, ‘Nope. Its not available,'” she said.

While it’s common for large families to live in smaller homes in Afghanistan, American standards aren’t quite the same. Many Afghan families are able to leave bases on humanitarian parole, which gives them access to medical care, work authorization and more. But for some, even that won’t be enough to finance housing.

“They are working for a minimum wage. So, even when the home does become available, chances of them getting it over people who have credit history, who has the income to support that, are going to get that much faster,” Bandawal said.

Ideally, resettlement agencies would rather keep families in Indianapolis to have better access to transportation and access to case works. But with the shortage, they are considering housing in surrounding rural communities.

In addition to resettlement efforts, others interesting in helping can look into sponsoring an Afghan family.