Abdi stepped off the plane at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport by himself and looked around for the way to baggage claim. He was apprehensive and scared—not only had he traveled all the way from Kenya by himself, but he was a young man with no family or friends in Minnesota. Would anyone be there to meet him at the bottom of the stairs?
For a newly arriving single refugee, arriving alone to the United States with few or no personal connections to Minnesota can be a frightening experience. Finding affordable housing for single refugee arrivals can also be a challenge when arrivals have few or no family connections with whom to stay, either temporarily or long term.
This spring, MCC Refugee Services initiated a unique partnership with Urban Homeworks , a Minneapolis based non-profit housing organization, to address the challenges of social connection and housing for newly arriving single refugee men. In collaboration with International Institute of Minnesota and World Relief Minnesota, MCC Refugee Services and Urban Homeworks utilized a vacant 5 bedroom apartment (originally used for Urban Homeworks’ Urban Neighbor program) to house newly arriving single refugee men. Residents of the apartment sign a month to month lease that assigns them to a bedroom in the apartment, while the living room, dining room, kitchen, and bathrooms are shared in common. The arrangement provides flexibility for new arrivals, an opportunity to accumulate rental history and meet new people, and can be a place for transition or long term residence.
For MCC Refugee Services and Urban Homeworks, the partnership is one that provides an opportunity to live out both organizations’ missions—providing an abundant welcome for newly arriving refugees and providing dignified affordable housing for low income people. Together, MCC Refugee Services, International Institute of Minnesota, and World Relief Minnesota have filled all the rooms at the Urban Homeworks apartment!