CHARLOTTE — Some local faith leaders are working overtime to find homes for hundreds of refugees coming from Afghanistan, given Charlotte’s already tight housing market.
Stemming from the chaos of the United States’ withdrawal from Afghanistan, countless refugees are leaving their war-torn country. Roughly 200 men, women and children will arrive in the Queen City over the next few months with help from the Catholic Diocese of Charlotte.
“We help them to start accessing services, get them employed, get the kids in school, and help them to start acculturating to life in charlotte,” said Sandy Buck, who oversees the Catholic Charities Refugee Resettlement Program.
Many of the refugees served as interpreters or provided other assistance to the U.S. military during the war, putting their lives in danger with the Taliban takeover.
In 40 years of helping refugees, though, the program has never experienced such a hard time finding affordable places for people to live.
“We are facing this crisis where we have no housing in Charlotte,” Buck told Channel 9.
The other problem is that Buck and her team get less than 24 hours notice before a family arrives. One family got to Charlotte on Sunday night. They’re currently in a hotel room with their 3-day old baby.
“They’ve already been through so much, we want them to come and get settled, not be moving around again once they get here,” Buck said.
The resettlement program is looking for 1-3 bedroom apartments or houses in Mecklenburg County or surrounding areas to help house the refugees.
The first several months of rent will be paid up front, with families themselves taking over once they find work -- but Buck said the homes must be affordable since many refugees may be working lower-wage jobs.
“We know how to do the resettlement -- we’ve been doing it a long time and we’re good at it -- but this is a new challenge for us,” Buck said. “So, we need help with the housing.”
Raleigh and Durham will also join the effort, more than doubling the number of Afghan refugees who have settled in North Carolina over the past decade.
(WATCH BELOW: 9 Investigates: What’s driving Charlotte’s competitive housing market)
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