KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Della Lamb Community Services, a nonprofit in Kansas City, Missouri, said it takes a village to resettle and acclimate refugee families.
The nonprofit said it plans to help approximately 450 Afghan evacuees and refugees from other countries coming to the Kansas City area throughout the federal fiscal year, which began on Oct. 1.
"We rely on a public/private partnership to ensure that we can walk with refugees to ensure safety, security and comfort for those who are still dealing with the trauma of displacement, war or violence," a spokesperson for Della Lamb said.
Della Lamb Community Services Housing Coordinator Elena Chan works to secure housing for each person the nonprofit assists. On Friday, she helped establish a studio apartment in Northeast Kansas City for a soon-to-be new neighbor, a 19-year-old man who fled Afghanistan.
“He will be arriving Monday,” Chan said. “We have a group of volunteers to make it nice, make it easy to join his new neighborhood.”
She said every Afghan evacuee secures a one-time payment of $1,000 from the federal government. According to Della Lamb Community Services, once an individual finds housing, after the security deposit and first month’s rent, that payment is long gone.
In order to address this issue, the nonprofit, along with community donations, is working to provide refugees and evacuees a new start by fully furnishing and initially paying for a new home.
“Finding a place that is affordable is quite the task,” Chan said. “I know how it feels when you come to a new place. You don’t know anyone, where to start, how to make groceries, how to open a bank account, how to just use heat or air conditioning.”
Della Lamb estimates the total expenses for the first month per refugee starts at $3,000, when you account for housing, food, clothing and furniture.
The organization also stated that most refugees must start paying back the government for their flights soon after arrival, owing upwards of $3,500.
Chan said amidst the chaos of an evacuee’s new life, her goal is to make them self-sustainable. She said she also wants to give them a chance to build equity and have a dignified experience in Kansas City.
“Erasing that boundary: 'them and us.' How can we create a new 'we?'” she said.
Della Lamb said they need help connecting with Kansas City landlords and collecting monetary donations.