Agencies Struggle to House Afghanistan Refugees in Dallas-Fort Worth

Agencies Struggle to House Afghanistan Refugees In Dallas-Fort Worth
Afghanistan refugees arriving to the United States. | Image by Oliver Douliery, Getty Images

Several agencies offering relief to refugees arriving from Afghanistan are finding that as more families are being released from military bases, there is little to no housing available for them. Caseworkers are overwhelmed trying to find affordable housing for families arriving in North Texas. 

“Every day, we are seeing four to five families released and either being placed with host families, or I have families even in Airbnb’s and just all over the place,” said Director of DFW Refugee Outreach Services Zeenat Khan.

According to The International Rescue Committee, over 7,500 refugees resettled across the United States in 2021. Refugees who have fled war and persecution are coming to Dallas, one of twenty cities that currently hosts refugees, to create lives for their families. As the Taliban swept through the Afghan nation last summer and seized the capital of Kabul on August 15, over 100,000 people were evacuated to the United States. 

As the metroplex continues to see rising housing costs, it is getting harder to find permanent places for families, leaving them to remain on military bases for months. 

“They told us you would eventually leave the camp, but it was an uncertain situation,” Zahra Yagana told NPR, who has spent close to two months at Wisconsin’s Fort McCoy. 

Yagana told the outlet that although she was glad to be out of Afghanistan, she was not comfortable at Fort McCoy. They were housed in a two-story barrack building with her 21-one-year-old, her 18-year-old, and seven other families. She was also concerned with news of two individuals living in the barracks who had been charged with assault and engaging in sexual acts with a child. Yagana had hopes of starting a new life when she came to the United States, but says, “this was something that I couldn’t do in the camp.”

Relief agencies try to resettle families with landlords who have never rented to refugees before. However, the task is not easy as many have not established themselves in the United States and don’t have credit history available. 

The DFW Refugee Outreach Services told KERANews they have set up registries with Walmart and Amazon for the refugees’ immediate needs. Khan says, “Most of these refugees have absolutely nothing, no belongings…just the way they were evacuated, just the clothes on their backs.”

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