One of the ways that Refugee Housing Solutions team members support all 10 Resettlement Agencies, and their local affiliates, is with in-person technical assistance and support. RHS staff are available to join national and regional meetings where refugee and newcomer housing is a topic and where RHS staff insights, connections, and facilitation skills can add value to a RA or affiliate meeting.
Continuing the RHS-HIAS dialogue, in March 2023 I was privileged to be joined by my RHS colleague, Sophia Martin, at HIAS’ East Regional Reception and Placement conference. There we joined HIAS affiliate colleagues, including those staff with responsibility to find housing, to consider possibilities for new affordable housing solutions for newcomers. The conversation evolved from a series of 30-minute phone interviews I had with each local affiliate before the meeting. Then, based on synthesis to discern common challenges and unique solutions from some local affiliates, a lively 90-minute discussion followed. In addition to discussing best and promising practice solutions, HIAS affiliate staff shared their biggest challenges as yet unaddressed. And, in response, RHS staff was able to update all HIAS affiliates about myriad resources – including one-on-one technical assistance – offered by the Refugee Housing Solutions team.
All refugee resettlement professional, including those who find, vet, and prepare newcomer housing are almost always working at least 110%. So, the RHS team learned, many had not had time to explore, or take advantage of what RHS has to offer. One highlighted option based on conversation was a reminder that technical assistance need not necessarily be about a specific problem or challenge. TA can, if fact, be a space and time to sort priorities, e.g., which housing challenge to address first. And, it is often a place to learn that others have had identical or similar challenges – and have successfully addressed them! So, TA can provide answers as well.
From HIAS: “RHS provided invaluable contributions to our regional training with East coast affiliates. Their ability to have one-on-one pre-meetings with each agency allowed us to get an in depth understanding of the particular challenges at each site, but also capture overall trends in the region and innovative ideas that were then shared at the conference for replicability at other sites.”
With positive evaluations from HIAS’ East Regional gathering, RHS is poised to join Central and Western gatherings too.
A reminder and an invitation to all Resettlement Agencies and local affiliates and offices: The RHS team is always ready to support discussions and brainstorming about ways to improve housing opportunities for newcomers. The team is here to join virtually or, if session facilitation is needed as with HIAS, to join in person.