The Chicago area could start welcoming Afghanistan refugees in less than two weeks, according to local resettlement agencies processing evacuees from the country.
Jims Porter with RefugeeOne said at least three families are confirmed to be resettled within the coming weeks. RefugeeOne is working with them to link them with career, medical and mental health services.
"It's really critical we provide our mental health services to help them overcome that trauma so they’re able to start focusing on things like learning English and finding a job," said Porter.
World Relief Chicagoland is looking for volunteers to help refugees adjust to their new home. Everything from “friendship partners" to help them adjust to American culture to tutors will be needed over the next several years.
Nathan White, the director of External Engagement, said the agency is expecting a more than 600% increase in refugees resettling to the Chicago area within the next year.
"This is not something that’s going away shortly. It’s going to last a long time," said White.
Meanwhile, affordable housing will be a challenge in a city like Chicago. RefugeeOne says the goal is to find permanent housing.
"When refugees arrive, they don’t have any credit history," said Porter. "Many of them don’t have employment history and so it's really difficult to find landlords willing to rent to refugees."