Eastern Michigan University to open campus apartments to Afghan refugees

Eastern Michigan University (WDIV)

YPSILANTI, Mich. – Approximately one dozen refugee families from Afghanistan will soon move into apartments on Eastern Michigan University’s campus as they resettle to the United States.

The effort is in collaboration with Jewish Family Services of Washtenaw County, the county’s resettlement agency that provides refugees with extensive support services and helps place families in housing.

EMU is opening its campus apartments to the newly arrived families after learning of JFSWC’s critical need for housing.

Several families have been housed in local extended-stay hotels until now, and have completed background checks, medical tests and extensive processing. Those eligible also received vaccinations against COVID-19.

Volunteer opportunities for Eastern students with be available via JFSWC to help young family members acclimate to the area and to help prepare the apartments prior to the arrival of the families.

According to a news release, the families will be asked to adhere to all EMU rules and regulations, including the following COVID-19 mitigation measures:

  • Vaccination of all eligible persons
  • Mask-wearing in all indoor public areas on campus
  • Completing an electronic “COVID PASS” Daily Health Screening before visiting EMU’s main campus area
  • Participating in the University’s COVID-19 testing processes

“Most of us can’t imagine the challenges and hardships these families have experienced,” EMU President James Smith said in a release. “I’m tremendously pleased that Eastern is able to partner with JFSWC and support its critical resettlement work for these families. For years, our campus has been adorned with banners bearing a simple message: ‘You Are Welcome Here.’

“Never has that message been more important than it is today. EMU aims to be a place of inclusion. JFSWC is living this message through its important work every day, and we are thrilled to count ourselves among its community partners. We aim to do our very best, along with the support of the entire EMU community, to make our Afghan guests welcomed and supported.”

Set to last through April 2022, the housing arrangements include stipends the families will use to help pay for housing at the student rate.

“Affordable housing is a huge challenge in this area,” JFS’ Executive Director Anya Abramzon said in a release. “As we welcome over 300 Afghan newcomers to our community, we are so grateful to EMU for doing their part to help us support this humanitarian crisis.”

About the Author:

Meredith has worked for WDIV since August 2017 and was voted one of Washtenaw County's best journalists in 2019 by eCurrent's readers. She covers the community of Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in International Broadcast Journalism from City University London, UK.