The Hyde Park Refugee Project, a volunteer-run organization involving more than 500 community volunteers supporting refugee families living in our neighborhood, recently helped two refugee families find and relocate to new homes.
One of the biggest issues confronting refugee families is lack of affordable housing. In the summer of 2019, two Syrian families needed to relocate when the Hyde Park apartments offered at reduced rents for the past three years by a local religious institution, were no longer available. Volunteers sprang into action searching for affordable housing, making numerous contacts and asking for assistance. Housing was located in the Woodlawn neighborhood just to the south of Hyde Park and in Hyde Park.
The next major effort involved physically moving the two families. Volunteers helped pack boxes and made themselves available on the move day to “lift and tote” the family’s considerable belongings. A 15-foot U-Haul truck was secured. When these families arrived in the United States two and a half years ago, they arrived with just a few suitcases. Now, they needed a truck to move all their belongings— an indication of how much they have assimilated into the American way of life.
Successfully moved, the two families are now settling into their new homes. This move also necessitated a change in schools for some of the refugee children and HPRP mentors counseled the families on what the public school options were and how to select and secure schooling for the fall. In addition to helping with the move, HPRP volunteers worked with our refugee family members to secure employment and to access needed healthcare.
From sponsoring a single Syrian refugee family beginning in 2016, HPRP has grown to providing assistance to a thriving refugee community including four Syrian families and one Congolese family. The organization has also expanded to provide English as a Second Language classes and a summer camp for the children of refugee and immigrant families.
by Judy Mintel