Housing is one of the most important services that PRERNA provides to refugee families. Securing affordable, permanent housing quickly can alleviate the early financial burden of families when they resettle in a new country. Our volunteer housing team is usually the first to meet newly arrived refugee families and helps them find transitional housing. This is typically a motel or hotel that has been paid for by PRERNA. Upon arrival, we provide them “new family arrival kits” which include items such as soap, shampoo and toothbrushes.

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As one of the most expensive real estate markets in the U.S., it is a challenge to find affordable homes for refugees in the Bay Area. To make this possible, PRERNA seeks out friendly landlords and property managers with rental apartments and houses who are willing to support refugee families. During this search, we sign up for eligible rentals that have open “wait lists” and pay a holding fee to maintain some of these lists so that we are aware when early housing becomes available. Our housing team also reaches out to the California Apartment Association and city government offices in the Bay Area for leads on affordable housing.

Once permanent housing is located and acceptable to the refugee family, we help with the rental application process and legal paperwork. We ensure all approvals are met to secure safe housing for the families. PRERNA provides financial assistance with the application fees, first month’s rent and often pays the security deposit. We also help them apply for renters insurance and register for utilities. After the financial requirements are met and forms are signed, PRERNA will assist the families with moving into their new homes, guiding them with the information and resources they need to begin integrating successfully.

PRERNA accepts in-kind donations to furnish the refugees’ new apartments with basic items, including furniture, dishes, bedding and computers. Volunteers manage the inventory which are secured in a small storage facility and replenished as needed for new families. Sometimes, moving companies will offer pro-bono services, giving their time to pick up items from donors and drop them off at the family homes.

As part of a family’s orientation, PRERNA helps them explore their neighborhoods for shopping, banking and other important activities. We also guide refugees on how to lead a healthy life through hygiene education and teach them social etiquette and safety measures. As they begin to rebuild their lives in their new home, we ensure they have the supplies they need and know how to use them properly.

Learn more about refugee housing from the personal experiences of Reena Arya who is PRERNA’s former Housing Team Lead. Let us know if you have an affordable apartment or house to rent or know of one that will provide a refugee family a home.