U.S. Rep. Phillips Visits Brooklyn Park Warehouse That Helps Afghan Refugees
Monday afternoon in a Brooklyn Park warehouse, U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips joined leaders from several organizations aimed at helping the Afghan refugees who now call Minnesota “home.”
The congressman’s goal was to learn about the many challenges facing those refugees.
“What are you hearing from families, and is there anything that you’re aware of that we can do in Congress to, perhaps, rectify that,” Phillips asked of the panelists during a roundtable discussion.
The panel brought up everything from difficulties adjusting to life here.
“There’s a lot of loneliness and isolation right now that they’re scattered across the Twin Cities,” said Sonia Anunciacion, the Afghan Resettlement Project lead with Alight. “And so we are looking to build field trips, monthly field trips, for the youth and the women, as well as sewing socials and other workshops for economic growth.”
Other issues brought up include problems accessing transportation to get to work, and the inability for Afghans to find affordable housing.
“Four-hundred square feet at $1,500 a month is not affordable housing,” said Jillian Kyles, the manager of the Hennepin County Office of Multi-Cultural Services.
The site of Monday’s roundtable discussion was a warehouse in Brooklyn Park operated by Alight.
Over the last few months, the nonprofit set up a marketplace where Afghan refugees could get furniture and supplies free of charge.
While the marketplace certainly helps the roughly 1,300 Afghans who resettled here, there’s still a lot of work to do to help Minnesota feel like home.
“What we’re trying to do now in Congress is try to fix, at least incrementally, a system that’s been terribly disadvantageous to Afghans in particular,” said Phillips. “Particularly those who’ve helped our mission.”