Only 1% of refugees worldwide get resettled. Half of them end up in the United States.
Refugees who get settled in the USA have been through the ringer. It takes an average of 2 years of interviews with the UNHCR to find out if they will be resettled. Once assigned to the USA, they must go through another 2 or so years of interviews with a handful of government agencies, such as the Dept. of Homeland Security, the FBI, and the NSA.
Once assigned to a city in the USA, 1 of 9 national resettlement agencies will help get them set up with the basics -- an apartment with minimal furnishings (any furnishings come out of their stipend), food stamps, insurance, orientation classes, and a one-time stipend per family member.
In Phoenix, refugees tend to get placed in Glendale, since landlords there generally don't require a credit check and also look the other way when it comes to the state law requiring no more than two tenants per bedroom. That's why we have large families with 7 kids in one room, for example.
Families are required to wait 6 months before they can even apply for government subsidized housing. Once they do apply, there is an extremely long waiting list. Rent in Glendale runs around $750-$900/month, so most of their one-time stipend goes towards rent. Hopefully by the time they run out of their stipend money, they will have procured jobs and are self-sufficient.
This is where we come in: Resettlement agencies give Lifting Hands International referrals for families who especially need help obtaining furniture, getting settled, etc. so that they can save their stipend for other costs. We then collect donated furniture and have volunteers 1. set up apartments for incoming smaller families (smaller families = less money), or 2. fill in the gaps for all families who could just really use some help. Furnishing apartments not only saves them money, but also helps so much with the difficult transition to America. While America is the land of the free and the home of the brave, culture shock is alive and well. Everything is different. We try to make it a little easier for them by providing safe, warm, and beautiful space for them.
Live in the PHX area and interested in helping out? Sign up at email@example.com.