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Organizations work together to find affordable housing for refugees


As Afghan refugees start to arrive in Utah, Governor Cox and other critical players in refugee issues continue to try to solve the big problems.


Director of Utah’s Refugee Services Office, Asha Parekh, highlighted one of them.


“We are all very acutely aware of the lack of available affordable housing in our state,” Parekh said.


Solving this problem for refugees involves a number of different organizations including Utah’s two resettlement agencies, Catholic Community Services and the International Rescue Committee, as well as the Utah Apartment Association.


Executive Director of the Association, Paul Smith, said they reached out, and landlords responded. 


“When I first sent out an email, asking landlords if they could help, I got hundreds of replies,” Smith said. “And over 20,000 units, the owners of over 20,000 units, said we'd love to help if the timing lines up.”


Smith said they will receive one weeks notice of refugees' arrival. The hope is that vacancies open up with these pre-committed landlords, and refugees will have a place to live before they even arrive. 


It’s a collaborative effort of a lot of people, Smith said, but it’s Utah’s turn to give back.


“Utah is a culture of generosity. And because our pioneer founders were also displaced from their homes, we know what it's like, and we can relate,” Smith said.


Parekh said helping refugees resettle in Utah not only makes us better people but also enriches our lives.


“They come here with a strong sense of community, they want to give back, they participate and support each other,” Parekh said. “They really believe in many people, despite all the stuff that they have gone through in life.”