DENVER — Since August, the State of Colorado has welcomed 1,183 Afghan refugees. While state officials prepare to welcome 1,000 more by the end of February, the Office of New Americans has established a new transitional housing site.
“There are still 30,000 Afghans who have been staying on military bases since the end of August. We can all imagine that they are ready to start their lives here,” said Kit Taintor, director of the Office New Americans. “They are ready to get to work, they are ready for their kids to be enrolled in school and a transitional housing helps with that.”
The housing is at an undisclosed location, but Taintor said there is room for hundreds of families.
“The goal is for families to find permanent housing within 30 days,” Taintor said. “When we saw the pictures of the flights coming from Afghanistan, we knew that we needed to pull together the best and brightest from state government to come at it from a holistic approach.”
Other organizations are stepping in to help as well.
“Just last month alone, in the month of November, we had 85 families that walked into the mosque,” said Lailey Hashem, vice president of Metropolitan Denver North Islamic Center.
Hashem said resources are dwindling.
“Right now the most help is needed because they are actually here. In August we were getting prepared. There were not as many here," Hashem said. "Now, they need our support."
Hashem said a lot of families are coming to the U.S. with nothing.
“They are here with one pair of clothes on when they left the country, and they do not have any jackets or winter items,” Hashem said.
Hashem said on Dec.18, the Metropolitan Denver North Islamic Center will host a volunteer event where they will accept donations for winter clothing and household items.