Hello Neighbor receives federal grant to resettle refugees in Allegheny County | News | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Hello Neighbor receives federal grant to resettle refugees in Allegheny County

click to enlarge Hello Neighbor receives federal grant to resettle refugees in Allegheny County
Photo: courtesy of Hello Neighbor
Two Afghan men smile and share food during a recent gathering of Hello Neighbor's Afghan community.
Hello Neighbor announced on Oct. 12 that it is now partnered with the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, which will allow them to start directly resettling refugees, special immigrant visa holders, and immigrants and Pittsburgh and across Allegheny County.

The nonprofit organization, founded in 2017, has provided aid through a variety of programs and direct aid for refugees who have been in Pittsburgh between six months and five years, but the new partnership will allow them to begin their support immediately upon refugees’ arrivals. This is Hello Neighbor's first federal contract.

“The responsibility of resettling these new arrivals, our newest neighbors, to our great city and into our communities is one that we will take on with the same heart, compassion, dignity, and respect that we bring to all of our programs,” Hello Neighbor founder and CEO Sloane Davidson said in a YouTube video announcing the partnership.

Over next 12 months, Hello Neighbor plans to resettle 100 refugees from countries such as Bhutan, Myanmar, Syria, and Democratic Republic of the Congo, from which many Pittsburgh refugee families already come. It also plans to resettle 50 Afghan Special Immigrant Visa holders who worked with the U.S. military, as well as up to 100 Afghan Humanitarian Parolees, many of whom are currently located on U.S. military bases or being extracted from Afghanistan.

Hello Neighbor will provide them help with housing, employment, enrolling in schools and English classes, accessing health care, basic needs, and more. Its family services will also continue for additional post-settlement support after a family’s first 90 days with programs such as family mentorship, study buddies for students, and a smart start program for expecting mothers and those with newborn children.

The U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants aims to help refugees achieve self-sufficiency through a partnership with the U.S. Department of State and has assisted more than 300,000 newcomers. Hello Neighbor’s partnership with USCRI includes implementing a Community Sponsorship model with volunteers from Allegheny County to aid with airport pick ups, housing and school support, transportation, and community introductions to third spaces such as libraries and playgrounds. And the groups expansion in services comes after the Trump administration shrunk funding, and local refugee agencies had to downsize or fold.

“Together we have made incredible strides in creating a more welcoming Pittsburgh for our refugee and immigrant neighbors, and this is truly just the beginning,” Davidson said.

Hands off Rafah protest in East Liberty
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Hands off Rafah protest in East Liberty

By Mars Johnson