Welcome Housing provides affordable short-term furnished housing for newly arrived refugees – as well as local welcoming and hospitality from Community Hosts. As an alternative to expensive and isolating hotel stays, LEAP operates two rental Welcome Houses that are subleased at half the cost of a hotel ($35/night). Local hosts give newcomers a personal extension of welcome, peace of mind as a nearby helping hand, and a hopeful first impression of this friendly and peaceful city. This is the heart of Welcome Housing, as resettlement is not just about providing newcomers with resources, but making new relationships.
A BETTER BEGINNING FOR NEWLY ARRIVED REFUGEES
The guests of Welcome Housing thus far are a great representation of those resettling in Idaho. They have come from 7 different countries: Syria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Eritrea, Burma, Afghanistan, and Ethiopia. Of the guests hosted, 50% have been children (less than 18 years old).
Since 1975, roughly 700 refugees have been resettled to Boise every year. For 2017 and on, it will be roughly half of that (or even less).
Resettlement agencies distribute federal funds for assistance to new arrivals, and provide case management services focused on housing, cultural integration and language classes, health care and education services, and employment. These are all designed to facilitate refugees’ successful transition in the U.S., and help them to attain self-sufficiency. LEAP works very closely with the two resettlement agencies in Boise, the International Rescue Committee and Agency for New Americans.
Welcome Housing launched in December 2016 in response to the distinct disadvantage the competitive housing market puts refugees in when they first arrive to Boise. Our city has an affordable housing shortage of 8,000 units. New refugees come with additional barriers for leasing including lack of credit and rental history and employment. As a result, 50% of new refugees get stuck in hotel stays for about 21 days until a lease is secured.
Hotels are expensive and can drain a family’s resettlement fund before it is used for essentials like a deposit on an apartment. They make for a difficult transition, as space can be confining and the experience isolating.
Welcome Housing launched in December 2016 to provide a better beginning for newly arrived refugees in Boise by providing affordable short-term furnished housing for newly arrived refugees – as well as local welcoming and hospitality from Community Hosts. LEAP has been operating two rental Welcome Houses that are subleased at half the cost of a hotel ($35/night), and supply a space for families to acclimate to American housing with nearby support from hosts. Local hosts give newcomers a personal extension of welcome, peace of mind as a nearby helping hand, and a hopeful first impression of this friendly and peaceful city. This is the heart of Welcome Housing, as resettlement is not just about providing newcomers with resources, but making new relationships.
So far, the two Welcome Houses have served 80 guests and has saved each family an average of $850 (a total cost savings of $18,970, thus far!).
Affordable. Comfortable. Hosted.
Federal funding for refugees includes a one-time grant of $925/person for essentials like lease application fees and rental security deposit (though it is usually spent on hotels), in addition to a monthly stipend based on family size (see chart below). This stipend is provided for 8 months maximum. With help from an Employment Specialist at the resettlement agencies, newly arrived refugees typically secure employment 2-8 months after arrival, which replaces the small stipend. Welcome Housing saves each family an average of $850 over their stay.
It’s no exaggeration to say that this cost savings can alter a refugee family’s path. These funds can be put towards apartment application fees, a rental deposit, a cell phone, refurbished computer, or to make a down payment on an inexpensive car. Foundation investments like these can help a refugee keep a job, do a better job search, or access jobs outside the reach of Boise’s limited public transportation system.
The creation of LEAP Charities was inspired by faith. LEAP was founded on the basis that all people are made in God's image and deserve a secure place to live.
There is no requirement for anyone to participating in LEAP's programs or team to be a part of the same belief system. We welcome all people to participate in our mission, regardless of background or belief.
“Feeling welcome is so important because if you don’t feel welcome you feel fear, and fear is a barrier to integration. Welcome Housing gives a first impression. My clients know that this is an affordable service, and when they are provided with a home, and a greeting, and financial relief--this makes them feel acceptable in Boise. This allows them to take steps to integrate faster in Boise.”
- Asmaa, ANA Case Manager & former refugee from Syria