When new refugees arrive in Houston, they are faced with many challenges. According to Houston Public Media, “local agencies have resettled collectively more than 300 evacuees from Afghanistan [in 2021] and more than 75,000 refugees from all over the world since 1978.”
These agencies include The Alliance, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, Amaanah Refugee Services and the Interfaith Ministries. There are many resources to support new individuals and families moving to Houston,
What constitutes a new refugee in Houston?
Under Section 101(a)(42) of the INA, a refugee is an [individual] who, “generally, has experienced past persecution or has a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.”
After a traveling a challenging journey to Houston, Texas, how does one build a life for a family in a new country? There are many concerns to successfully acclimate new refugees in Houston. Everyone arrives in the U.S. under different circumstances; however, one thing is common, the need for shelter, clothing, community and education.
Many agencies partner to help build stronger resources for new refugees in Houston. For example, Interfaith Ministries and Amaanah Refugee Services partnered to help immigrants and refugees procure economic and social prosperity during the resettlement by providing housing, career development, education, transportation, and other basic needs that assist in the transition.
Settling into a New Home
Settling into a new home is one of the most important steps to accomplish as a new refugee in Houston. There are many affordable housing solutions available for New Americans, so it is important to find an agency resource that has the connections needed to aid in finding temporary and permanent shelter for a family.
According to FOX26 in Houston, many refugees fled to America having been targeted by terrorists. It’s vital that families and individuals live in a safe area with access to necessary services, employment opportunities and appropriate schooling. Creating a healthy home environment where families can grow and thrive is important to the success of the resettlement.
Breaking bread and sharing food with family and friends is an important tradition in many cultures. Food insecurity is a real threat to many families, especially during a pandemic, which is why many agencies are prepared to assist with essential groceries when a new family arrives.
In 2018, one in four children in Harris County Texas lived with food insecurity . This has reflected in dire consequences—children who are hungry throughout their school day perform worse, on average, on tests than students who come from food secure households. Therefore, finding a way to feed your family has both short- and long-term effects. Fortunately, agencies such as Amaanah Refugee Services set up food distribution events, door-to-door outreach, and grocery gift card distribution.
Getting around in urban areas such as Houston can often be daunting. According to Houston Public Media, about 15 percent of adults in Houston alone don’t have access to a car, so using public transportation is critical to gaining access to services like grocers, doctors, work and schools. New Americans may find it challenging to navigate public transportation. If someone needs transportation to work, school or medical treatment, they shouldn’t hesitate to contact an agency for help. There are many volunteers available to help transport new refugees in Houston to car lots, bus stops, Metro stations. Amaanah Refugee Services offers community programs to help individuals navigate public transportation and coordinate driving lessons.
It’s a fact, in Houston Independent School District—the largest district in Texas and seventh largest in the country—33 percent of students have limited English proficiency. There are programs available, including Teach360 that help recognize the shortfalls that new refugees in Houston face. It is critical that immigrant students get a strong education and have resources to mentors, tutors, and translators to help during the learning curve. These services can help bridge the educational gap and help children and adults succeed.
It can be a stressful time moving to a new country when you do not speak the native language or understand local behaviors. The United States is known as a melting pot, and there are a variety of ways Americans interact with each other. There are community programs available to help with new refugees in Houston acclimate with new surroundings, cultures and especially, the very southern Texas dialect.
Amaanah hosts three main programs to help new immigrants and refugees with resettlement.
First, the Teach 360 program is designed to support every new child, every step of the way in school. Amaanah’s mentors work with these children in-school and after-school to help with language learning and homework support, giving them the confidence to craft a vision for themselves to succeed.
Older boys are invited to join the Amaanah Lions soccer program. This championship winning sports team supports resettlement by helping young men build friendships, stay active, integrate into a new community, and have an opportunity to apply for scholarships. The lessons of teamwork and confidence building extend well beyond the soccer pitch.
Another empowering program offered by Amaanah Refugee Services is the Big Sister Circle group, which helps female refugees in Houston acclimate to life in a new city. The program brings together refugee women and nurtures their growth by providing bonding and mentoring opportunities. Also, participants are connected to community resources that help accelerate their collective benefits to life in Houston.
While the resettlement process may not be easy, Amaanah Refugee Services will help families start anew. You’ll find the necessary resources you need through us to make Houston feels like your new home. Amaanah Refugee Services employs a holistic approach in resettlement of new Americans by helping with all these aspects of everyday life. Again, with a mission of economic success and social prosperity, Amaanah ensures the stress of addressing these concerns New Americans have doesn’t consume the whole resettlement process. Never hesitate to reach out to agencies and resources that can help navigate a smooth transition.