Nebraska State Legislature aims to help refugees find new and safe homes

Published: Feb. 21, 2022 at 7:04 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 21, 2022 at 7:10 PM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - In the middle of an affordable housing shortage, hundreds of Afghan refugees in Nebraska need a place to stay.

There’s a proposal in the Nebraska State Legislature that aims to help refugees find a new and safe home. Lutheran Family Services is just one of many groups that resettles Afghan refugees. While struggling to find affordable housing, they reached out to state lawmakers. Now they could receive pandemic relief funding that will assist them with their efforts.

With almost 300 refugees in Lincoln alone and so few places for them to stay, Lutheran Family Services is in need of help.

“Now with the most recent Afghan crisis of refugees arriving in Nebraska, one of the fundamental issues has been housing,” said Matt Martin, Assistant Vice President of Community Programs at Lutheran Family Services.

Senator Myron Dorn has introduced a bill to provide more affordable housing for refugees. It’s part of the billion dollar ARPA Funding in Nebraska. $8 million would be used to create more options for those refugees.

“Imagine yourself going to a completely different country and trying to relocate, trying to get settled, trying to make a life for yourself,” State Senator Dorn said. “That is a challenge they are facing here.”

Last week the bill was brought to the Appropriations Committee in a hearing. Besides the $8 million for affordable housing, an additional $2 million would go towards job training and employment assistance.

“This is definitely one of the avenues available to Nebraska to help replenish our workforce and help fill some of those needed spots,” State Senator Dorn said. “Because its been very beneficial to have them come in and be a part of our state, a part of our community.”

Out of the almost 300 refugees that Lutheran Family Services is helping in Lincoln, a third of them are still in need of housing.

“Housing is one of the key components of the efforts that we make to help them make a successful transition to a new life here in our communities,” Martin said.

Lutheran Family Services said it has been harder to resettle large families if the bill is passed. They hope to use the funds on apartments and homes with multiple bedrooms.

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