RCHP-AHC Quarterly Newsletter June 2024

A MESSAGE FROM SETH KAPER-DALE, CEO, RCHP-AHC

Dear RCHP-AHC Community,

 

On April 12th I went to the Federal Reserve Bank in NYC to be a panelist at the HUD (Housing & Urban Development) Regional Conference for Housing Counseling. The morning was dedicated to refugee housing solutions, and I shared the details of our lease/sublease program, explaining why it works so well with refugee populations. For an audience worn out by the stress of housing struggles, this was well received.  

 

Since January I have spoken to the office of emergency management for Denver, Colorado (in regard to their 40,000 asylum seekers who arrived recently), have spoken to the Mayor’s Office in NYC, I have addressed various housing solutions groups and I will go to D.C., in July, to speak to the directors of HIAS as they gather for their annual meeting.  

Whether we are talking about asylum seekers, refugees, humanitarian parolees, reentering citizens, victims of trafficking, victims of domestic violence or any other vulnerable population, the work of lease/sublease seems to be successful—and surprisingly underutilized.

  

Why underutilized?  People say, “because of the risk.  What if refugee clients, or other vulnerable clients don’t pay their rent?”

   

To me, the far greater risk is to have landlords lose lots of money on a unit.  Most developers and landlords build and own housing—they don’t do social work.  And I don’t want them to.  I want them to build beautiful homes, and to make them available to people who “don’t look good on paper.”  And that is where we come in.  We, RCHP-AHC, lease units, in the name of and with the backing of the agency.  And we, in turn, place tenants who we believe, with support, will rise up to be self-sufficient.   


The faster we place people, the faster kids are in school, the sooner someone can secure a job, the sooner they start building community connections, the better. 


There are a million more reasons why lease/sublease (also called ‘master-leasing’) works.  Ask me about it next time you’re visiting Global Grace Cafe! 

Peace, Seth   



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FEATURE STORIES

Youth Supportive Housing…. It’s a Marathon, not a Sprint 

 

Submitted by Lori Freedman, MSW – AHC Tenant Services Director 

The third project of the nascent RCHP Affordable Housing Corp., way back in 2010, was to create 10 units of supportive housing in Newark for homeless, justice-involved youth who are 18-22 years old at the time of first entering the program. “Justice-involved” could be anything from being incarcerated and returning home, spending time in a juvenile facility as a child, having the court involved in your life through Child Protective Services, having had a run-in with police, or being at risk of involvement with the justice system because of ongoing homelessness. 

 

RCHP-AHC purchased two 2-family buildings in Newark and opened Shiimti Apartments. (In Sumerian, Shiimti means “house where the wind of life is breathed in.”) On December 28th and 30th, 2010, as Newark cleaned up from a snowstorm that made moving day quite a slip-and-slide, eight youth moved into the two houses, with the two remaining youth entering the program shortly thereafter. Each house has a Resident Assistant who, in exchange for free housing, provides support to the youth in the house, and serves as a link to RCHP-AHC.   

 

One of the earliest residents to move into the housing, in May 2011, was Kevin M. He was 19 at the time and had been in many different placements throughout his childhood.........  

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Still Waters Aspire Program – Providing Services for Child Victims of Trafficking 

 

Submitted by Jean Stockdale, Program Director 

One limb on RCHP-AHC’s life-giving tree of housing and services is Still Waters Anti-Trafficking. As the tree continues growing upwards and outwards, that limb now has three branches: Housing Assistance for Victims of Trafficking (funded by the US Department of Justice, Office on Victims of Crime), the Trafficking Victims Assistance Program (TVAP) serving foreign national adult victims of labor trafficking and sex trafficking, and the Aspire program serving child victims. TVAP and Aspire operate in partnership with the US Committee on Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI), through a cooperative agreement with the US Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office on Trafficking in Persons.  

 

The Aspire program began in 2022 after USCRI enlisted government officials and agencies to address the complex needs of trafficked children, including family breakdown, safety from traffickers after escaping, child welfare, custody, placement and foster care, immigration status, educational deficits, school enrollment, ESL, basic household and personal necessities, and medical, dental, and mental health concerns.   

 

Still Waters’ staff -- four full-time and two part-time..................

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UPDATES & HAPPENINGS

A Message from Ashar Ghumman, Director of Global Grace Farms: 

 

Global Grace Farms will start its Summer farm share in early June. We will deliver our first farm share harvest to Global Grace Marketplace every Friday during the Summer. We have shares available both for the public and for refugees. The shares can be purchased either in person from the Marketplace or on the Marketplace website 

 

We are growing Squash, Zucchini, Cucumbers, Okra, Kale, Chard, Bell Peppers and more. We also sell eggs at the marketplace and at the RCHP Church Global Grace Cafe. 

 

We also have plots available for refugees for gardening. If anyone is interested, they can directly contact me at ggfarms@interfaithrise.org OR contact their caseworker. 


Pictured: Wardlaw-Hartridge School students doing a day or service at the farm. 

Accompany Now! Newsletter 

 

Check out the latest from our organization that assists unaccompanied minors, including an appeal for school supplies, an opportunity for sponsoring summer passes for YMCA and Boys & Girls Clubs, and what AN staff are doing to go above and beyond their job descriptions.  Click on this link to download a PDF. 

 


New Director of Mental Health Services 

 

After an extensive search, in March, AHC hired our new Director of Mental Health, Bruno Oriti, PhD., who has over 30 years of experience as a licensed psychologist, working with all ages, from children to the elderly.  The necessity of mental health services for our clients is just as vital to their wellbeing as their physical health, especially those fleeing war and violence in their home countries.  We are thrilled to have Bruno join the AHC team!  

A Little Slice of Heaven at Global Grace Cafe


With the help of volunteers and Career Pathways clients, the Cafe is now serving Afghan bread. Stop by any time from 11:30am - 1:30pm, Monday thru Friday to give it a try, by the slice or by the loaf! Located in the social hall at RCHP, 19 S. 2nd Ave., Highland Park, NJ. We are also selling the bread at the Global Grace Marketplace, 208 Raritan Ave. In HP 


Global Grace Café receives $10,000 Kushner Foundation Grant 

Submitted by Pastor Seth    

 

For years, as I jogged down 2nd Ave in HP to Donaldson Park, I would pass a man washing his car and listening to the radio.  Little did I know that this man, when he died, would leave Highland Park a large gift in memory of his late mother.  Among the recipients of his generosity is Global Grace Cafe.  In April, while sitting with a newcomer to the Cafe for lunch, this man was amazed at the wonderful diversity of a packed cafe.  The chefs, the servers and the diners seemed to represent the whole world.  “Who pays for those who have no money?” he asked.  “We do,” I responded.  His response was, “well, I can think of no better appropriate use of Kushner Foundation funds than this Cafe. Expect a contribution of $10,000.”  So, the next 1,700 complimentary delicious meals are paid for by this beautiful gift! 

Highland Park North 4th Avenue Property


RCHP-AHC’s newest DCA (Dept. Of Community Affairs) house, building with funds from the National Housing Trust Fund, is fully occupied. The last family moved into “North 4th” right at the beginning of June. We are thankful to see 4 families enjoying turning a beautiful house into 4 beautiful homes! 


Groundbreaking for Senior Housing in Long Branch - UPDATE 

 

When we got the approvals for Long Branch, back in October of 2023, we expected groundbreaking might be in May, 2024. Various additional steps, that are unavoidable to groundbreaking, have delayed us. We still hope for a late summer shovel in the ground! There are 15 very low and low income seniors (individuals or couples) waiting for these permanent homes. We pray the necessary hoops are jumped through quickly! 

Interfaith-RISE Match Grant Program 

 

One of the most important programs for self-sufficiency among the refugee population is Match Grant.  Match Grant funds are a way to encourage refugees to NOT go into the public welfare system by giving three additional months of rental and cash support (beyond the initial 3 that all refugees receive).  The funding for Match Grant is often “wonky,” as congress wrestles with funding questions that impact this particular program.  After a rough Oct-December, where the MG dollars were very low, we received a massive increase in the new year. These additional funds allow us to grow our team of those who are working hard to make self-sufficiency obtainable for all. We were granted, in total 1.7 million dollars over a 12 month period, which is enough to support 358 clients in Match Grant.  It also means that we are required to come up with $358,000 of our own funding, volunteer hours and material donations (beyond the required donations that go to all refugees) in support of these individuals.  Your gifts to Interfaith-RISE, gifts of time, treasure and talent, help us meet this match. 

New AHC Program - Neighbors Housing Neighbors


One of the great new awards granted to RCHP-AHC is the Homelessness Diversion Award.  We have been given a grant of $230,000, which includes $130,000+ of that for direct intervention to help provide housing to those who are currently homeless, and funds to help intervene in situations where, with a little help, someone can stay in their home.  These funds, coupled with a small grant that we started receiving in ’23 from Middlesex County, have allowed us to intervene in dozens of difficult situations.  This program is excellently led by Denise Rivera, who came to AHC after years serving as a Case Manager in the Bronx.  A beautiful aspect of this program is that funds can be used to assist anyone who is homeless regardless of immigration status.  Many of the long-time immigrant poor in Central NJ have no access to emergency funds.  This grant is wonderfully inclusive of them too. 

IN THE NEWS

DCA Awards More Than $7.1 million in Homelessness Prevention Grants to Community Organizations Across New Jersey

 https://www.nj.gov/dca/news/news/2024/approved/20240325.shtml  

This is the grant that is funding our new Neighbors Housing Neighbors program. 


New Biden Border Policy Faces Blowback from Progressives & Conservatives 

 

Pastor Seth was briefly interviewed for this story, focusing in on the likelihood of an increase in family separations, as children cross the border without parents. 

 


RCHP-AHC In the News Webpage 



Check out our “In the News” webpage and catch up on how the media has been covering the AHC housing model + other important stories that relate to our advocacy for new immigrant arrivals! https://rchp-ahc.org/in-the-news/ 

STAFF VOICES

Bienvenido a Casa - Welcome Home

  

Story by Ashley Henry - Volunteer & Donations Coordinator for I-RISE South Jersey 

I wanted to take a brief moment to share a story- an encounter I had with a Venezuelan Mom and her 2-year-old son.

 

Typically, when a house is set up for a new arrival, I do not get to see the family enter the home for the first time; however, because I had to make extra keys at Home Depot for the house that day, I had the opportunity to meet a single mom and her son at the door.

 

Upon meeting the family, I pulled out my Google Translate app and gave her a tour of the space. The Mom entered the bedroom holding her son closely on her hip. When she saw her son's NASCAR themed bed with a racecar plushie and car toys waiting for him to play with- she expressed happiness over seeing her living arrangements and showed her son the gifts laid out for him. (*We provided the family with a crib as well).

 

After pointing out where her food and kitchen items were located...........

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PROGRAM UPDATES & HIGHLIGHTS IN BRIEF

AHC/DIRE Legal - Afghan Family Reunification - our Afghan Legal Services Program has successfully reunited a family that was separated for over two years since the collapse of Kabul in the summer of 2021.  We are thrilled that our services have resulted in this outcome! 

Asylum Seeker Housing - This past month we received a family of 7 from Venezuela (moving them into a house in Newark), we received a mom and 3 year old from Ecuador (who joined their Dad who we have housed for 3 years), we received a Venezuelan and a Cameroonian man from Elizabeth Detention Center, among others. 

Global Grace Health - Every Thursday our team of Community Health Workers oversee the distribution of 350 boxes of food to very low-income families.  It takes hours to pick up the food, distribute it, coordinate the drivers etc…  We are amazed and so appreciative of the steadfast dedication of this team, and their consistent service to vulnerable communities around the state!

Global Grace Marketplace – Now Sells Fair Trade Soccer Balls

 

Fair trade certification guarantees the soccer balls are produced ethically, with a focus on supporting workers’ rights, safe working conditions, and fair wages. By purchasing fair trade certified soccer balls, you are not only getting a quality product but also contributing to the well-being of the workers involved in the manufacturing process. 

Stop by GG Marketplace Tuesday thru Saturday 10am-6pm to check them out and/or see our other amazing items for sale! 

I-RISE Recycled Woodshop -  

The Woodshop has had more volunteers join this past month and they have also taken on an Easter Seals client who is gaining valuable training experience with the regular Woodshop crew. They can always use more volunteers, however. Contact tim@interfaithrise.org to find out more.

Re-Entry Housing –


Trysh Vargas’ leadership, with Lori Freedman’s support, has been wonderful.  We are closing in on the goal of assisting 70 clients with the first year of funding from the Department of Corrections. 

Still Waters Anti-Trafficking - All is well at Still Waters.  Most of the clients needing the highest-level services are quite young, and lots are referred by Accompany Now! Or by USCRI (US Committee for Refees & Immigrants) itself.  The staff is strong and Jean is bringing on a Summer case aid college student to help with the increasing workload. 

RCHP-AFFORDABLE HOUSING CORP

COMMUNITY HIGHLIGHTS

I-RISE Celebrates World Refugee Day 

 

The I-RISE annual picnic was an opportunity to celebrate our refugee clients, volunteers, and staff, and to also present the various employers who have hired dozens of our clients with award plaques. The afternoon was filled with great food, games, face painting and wonderful entertainment. Thanks to all who made this awesome event happen! 

Our operations are generally self-sufficient.  However, our client needs vary, and 100% of donations from the public go to Direct Client Assistance. Thank you!

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