Bigger, Stronger, Better
Thoughts from a member of our Team as a leader in the affordable housing industry.
Supportive Services Manager
How Archway’s Services Program Brings Hope to our Immigrant Population
You arrive in the airport and the language is strange and fast, and everything is new. You may only own what you have in your bag, and perhaps have some savings. You go through immigration and begin to adapt to the reality of your new country. Maslow, and his hierarchy of needs, has nothing on this process, as it is as unique to each immigrant as the language they speak, the place they came from and the circumstances of their departure. Immigration will usually make your birthday January 1, and often misspell your name. Imagine you arrive here in the US without any English language skills, very little money, no friends or relatives to support you and three small children in tow. That is the reality for many immigrants who come here as refugees fleeing war or political persecution in their home country.
International Rescue Committee and Lutheran Family Services are two organizations that collaborate with Archway in order to connect immigrants with housing. Recently, a single parent family arrived at Archway Communities from Burma. We provided them with housing and helped them figure out transportation routes as well as enrolling in the local schools. We were able to establish safe relationships with the mother and children and identify her specific needs.
Archway’s Supportive Services team can really change the quality of life for our residents, particularly those who are new to the country and are not native English speakers. Our services team is also trained to help all our immigrant families to establish and update their food stamps or other benefits, as they are often not even aware such opportunities are available to them. Archway Communities takes the residents in as part of the family and this sets us apart from other affordable housing providers.
When our new American families come to Archway on move in day, they find welcome baskets of food and supplies and a Supportive Services Coordinator ready to assist them. Our Coordinators will immediately support enrolling the children in the local school, and we provide new backpacks every fall for all young tenants ages 5-17. Providing a calendar of onsite adult and children’s programming allows the new resident and their children to integrate within the community. Archway supports immigrant families in many ways including the welcome baskets, free shoes, clothes for school and job interviews, as well as onsite English classes, citizenship classes and application preparation.
The language barrier can often make certain opportunities unknown or out of reach. This is why Archway staff will proactively implement programming to provide equality of opportunity for our tenants regardless of English proficiency. Often, our new American tenants have had some education in their country of origin and wish to connect with institutions of higher learning or use that experience to obtain employment. The process of creating a resume or practicing for interviews in a second language is often challenging and we are here to help! In the last year, we have successfully supported both the Employment and Citizenship goals for our residents, with over 100 Citizenship classes and 12 new citizens in the last year.
About the Author:
My name is Maggie Howard, I am the Supportive Services Manager for Archway. When searching for an online opportunity during COVID, I came across a curious organization that needed an online citizenship teacher and provided low income housing. As life had it, I ended up becoming part of that organization, Archway Communities, which spends every day making the lives of their residents as safe, happy and healthy as possible, including our new American tenants. Archway sees a need and faces it, and that is what these immigrants need. Our founder, Robb Lapp, made extra efforts to visit often and engage with residents especially at these properties, showing the dedicated community leadership that we can carry on.