YPSILANTI — Nearly a dozen refugee families from Afghanistan will soon move into apartments on Eastern Michigan University’s (EMU) campus.
The effort is in collaboration with Jewish Family Services of Washtenaw County (JFSWC), the county’s resettlement agency that helps provide refugees with support services and housing.
EMU is opening the campus apartments to the families after learning of JFSWC’s critical need for housing.
Several refugee families have been housed in local extended-stay hotels and have completed background checks, medical tests and extensive processing. Those eligible were also given the COVID-19 vaccine.
There will also be volunteer opportunities for students to help young family members acclimate to the area and help prepare the apartments prior to the families’ arrival.
Families will be asked to adhere to all EMU rules and regulations, including its COVID-19 mitigation measures, which involve vaccination of all eligible persons, mask-wearing in all indoor public areas on campus, completing an electronic “COVID PASS” daily health screening before visiting EMU’s main campus area and participating in EMU’s COVID-19 testing processes.
“Most of us can’t imagine the challenges and hardships these families have experienced,” EMU President James Smith said. “I’m tremendously pleased that Eastern is able to partner with JFSWC and support its critical resettlement work for these families. For years, our campus has been adorned with banners bearing a simple message: ‘You Are Welcome Here.’ Never had that message been more important than it is today. EMU aims to be a place of inclusion. JFSWC is living this message through its important work every day and we are thrilled to count ourselves among its community partners. We aim to do our very best, along with the support of the entire EMU community, to make our Afghan guests welcomed and supported.”
The program is set to last through April and includes stipends the families will use to help pay for housing at the student rate.
“Affordable housing is a huge challenge in this area,” JFSWC Executive Director Anya Abramzon said. “As we welcome over 300 Afghan newcomers to our community, we are so grateful to EMU for doing their part to help us support this humanitarian crisis.”
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