Afghan refugees resettling in Virginia still need work, affordable housing

Published: Dec. 14, 2021 at 2:53 PM EST
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Several months ago, thousands of Afghan evacuees were brought to the United States to flee Taliban takeover.

What’s become of the refugees that have found a new home in southwest Virginia?

We invited Commonwealth Catholic Charities of Virginia on to the WDBJ7+ Digital News Desk to us an update. CEO Jay Brown said that between CCC’s three offices in Roanoke, Richmond and Norfolk, the organization has assisted more than 477 Afghan evacuees, with 88 of them coming through the Roanoke office. Brown said most often, the refugees head to areas where they have family or other strong connections. These are Afghans with special immigrant visa holders and those without those kinds of visas who are granted the ability to be in the United States due to the high risk they and their families face in Afghanistan.

Brown said CCC anticipates assisting more Afghans as processing of evacuees at Virginia military bases in particular is expected to last through mid-February.

CCC staff and volunteers, Brown said, meet refugees at the airport, welcome them and help get them into housing, jobs and enroll children in school.

Brown said most of the people they’re working with feel a tremendous sense of loss for having to leave their home country - and often times have experienced a lot of trauma. But, he said, they also express gratitude for the assistance and support.

The CCC staff and volunteers in Roanoke provide things like backpacks with school supplies for children, bed linens for apartments and even help move furniture into those apartments, among other things. The organization, Brown said, even receives support from individuals and organizations outside of Virginia.

While support has been robust, Brown said they continue to seek partnerships with employers and landlords as affordable housing and work continue to be ongoing needs for the refugees - many of whom, he said, come ready to work with highly developed skills, particularly those who worked with the U.S. Military.

Community members who are looking to support the refugees but might not be able to place them in a home or in a job can also contribute through CCC’s immediate need wish list. Items bought on the list are given directly to the individuals or families who need them. They also always need volunteers as well as monetary donations.

You can watch out full conversation with Commonwealth Catholic Charities of Virginia CEO Jay Brown here:

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