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Connecticut groups say Afghan refugees need affordable housing

Clients leave the Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services offices in New Haven after meeting with executive director Chris George.
Cassandra Basler
WSHU Public Radio

Resettlement agencies in Connecticut say they’re facing an unprecedented influx of refugees, mostly from Afghanistan, and it’s a struggle to find them affordable housing.

One resettlement agency in the state is Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services, or IRIS. Chris George, the executive director, said the nationwide affordable housing shortage is especially bad for refugees.

“IRIS will stand behind these refugees, even though they don’t have a credit history, even though they might not speak English,” George said. “We will guarantee the landlord that they will pay the rent and be fine tenants.”

The agency helps refugees find permanent housing, co-signs their leases and furnishes their apartments.

George said IRIS expects to take on about four times more refugees than normal, mostly from Afghanistan, after the fall of the country to the Taliban. He said the agency only gets a few days’ notice when new refugees arrive, as opposed to a few weeks, making it a rush to find housing.

George said residents can form community groups and register with IRIS to help welcome Afghan families and support them as they find jobs and homes.

Davis Dunavin loves telling stories, whether on the radio or around the campfire. He started in Missouri and ended up in Connecticut, which, he'd like to point out, is the same geographic trajectory taken by Mark Twain.