Syrian refugees sue landlord and feds over housing complaints

It is Saturday and, in recent weeks, I’ve made this my day to try to catch up on your e-mails and take care of other bits of maintenance here at RRW, but when I saw this story from New Jersey I just had to post it!

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Syrian ‘refugee’ safe in New Jersey had to shell out $200 of his own money to fix the heating in his US government funded apartment. Imagine that!

Syrian temporary ‘refugees’ say their government funded housing is dirty and bug-infested and so they hired a lawyer to fight for their ‘rights’ to better government funded housing in Paterson, NJ.

You will see that the story is about Syrians apparently granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS). Those would be people who got in to the US on their own somehow and miraculously were able to sign up for TPS.

These are apparently not refugees selected and screened through the UN/US Refugee Admissions Program.

(The hot news on TPS at the moment is that Hondurans who have been here ‘temporarily’ for nearly 20 years—TPS is usually for 18 months—have been told they must leave the US in 2020.)

I did know that the usual refugees we fly in get help with housing, but I did not know that TPS recipients get housing help from the US taxpayer too!


Now to the news at Reuters:

Syrian refugees take U.S. landlord, government to court over claims of filthy housing


A few snips:

NEW YORK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Lina Alhomsi and her family, all Syrian refugees, recently awoke in the middle of the night to the sight and sounds of a drunken man breaking through the roof of their New Jersey apartment.

Fed up with the living conditions, she and seven other refugee families this week filed a federal lawsuit against their landlord and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, claiming neglect, uninhabitable living conditions, breach of contract and emotional distress.

More than 6 million people have been uprooted from their homes in war-ravaged Syria, many living in dire conditions in temporary camps and settlements in the Middle East.

Many of those who made it to the United States like the Alhomsi family, among the roughly 7,000 Syrians with temporary protected status***, hoped for better.

Alhomsi, her husband and four children have lived in the Paterson, New Jersey apartment, some 50 miles northwest of New York City, since they arrived in the United States nearly two years ago.

The other refugee families suing also live in buildings owned by the same landlord in the run-down neighborhood, complaining of leaking ceilings, cockroaches, mice and bedbugs.


Another refugee signed onto the lawsuit, Mohammad Hilal, who fled his hometown of Daraa, Syria, said the bed bugs, roaches and mice are causing mental health problems and conflicts for his family.

The refugee families live in the United States under the federal government’s Temporary Rental Assistance, which pays for their housing for a limited period of time.

Kevin appleby

Appleby was formerly the lobbyist for the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. Search his name here at RRW for more about him.

Their future is clouded by President Donald Trump’s administration which has shown deep skepticism toward the program established by Congress in 1990 to provide temporary reprieve for immigrants whose home countries face disaster or conflict.


“This is not something I’ve heard of before, but I welcome it,” said Kevin Appleby, senior director of International Migration Policy at the Center for Migration Studies in New York.

“It’s always been a challenge to find housing for refugees,” he said. [Gee, I wonder why! It is going to get even harder with lawsuits like this one!—-ed]


According to the families, the landlord’s office accused them of being “dirty.”


But others like Waheed Safour, who lives with his two children, say they are hopeful the case will bring some change.

In his apartment, the heating broke down for 10 days last winter and no one came to fix it, he said. Safour said he spent more than $200 of his own money to solve the problem.

How outrageous is that, why weren’t the US taxpayers on the hook for that $200 as well??? After all, these are special people!

More at Reuters here.

By the way, one of the leading proponents of more Syrian refugees to the US is NJ Dem Bill Pascrell who represents the district that includes Paterson.  He was a former mayor of the city.

***For more on Temporary Protected Status for Syrians see my posts here.  How did all those Syrians, who now have TPS, get in to the US in the first place? Does Homeland Security ask?

The problem could be solved if the Trump Admin ends TPS for Syrians just as it is doing for others—Hondurans, Haitians, Salvadorans.