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Connecticut presses landlords to rent to Afghan families

November 3, 2021 GMT

Connecticut officials and refugee advocates called on landlords Wednesday to rent apartments to dozens of families that fled Afghanistan and will be resettling in the state, saying they’ll guarantee rent is paid and even co-sign rental agreements if necessary.

The state and refugee resettlement groups are trying to find a few hundred apartments for Afghan families, but say some landlords have expressed reluctance.

“Landlords, please step up,” Gov. Ned Lamont, a Democrat, said at a news conference outside a New Haven apartment set aside for one of the families. “We’re going to make it work for you, make it work for you financially and it’s really the right thing to do.”

The federal government told Connecticut officials to expect 510 refugees from Afghanistan to resettle in the state, and 214 already have arrived, said Deidre Gifford, the state’s social services commissioner.

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About 9,000 Afghans have been resettled in the U.S. and more than 50,000 are living in temporary housing at military bases in the U.S., according to the Biden administration. Up to 30,000 more are projected to arrive over the next year or so. The refugees fled after the U.S. withdrew troops from Afghanistan in August and the Taliban took over.

Chris George, executive director of the New Haven-based Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services, said his organization is looking for at least 100 apartments for the refugees. Another group, the Connecticut Institute for Refugees and Immigrants, is also trying to secure housing for the families.

George said some landlords are saying they’re not interested in renting to the refugees, despite the American tradition of welcoming immigrants.

“We stand behind these refugee families,” George said at the news conference. “We’ll make sure they pay the rent in full, on time. We are so confident that we will cosign the lease. So please, landlords, we’re not asking you to put refugees to the front of the line. We just want them to be in line. We want you to consider them as worthy tenants.”