Some Burmese refugees evicted in Pittsburgh

This is an article over a month old, but I’m just seeing it now thanks to Madeleine.  I’ve written two posts on the difficulties Burmese refugees are having in Pittsburgh with the all-too-familiar twin problems of employment (or lack of it) and lousy living conditions.

I wish I had seen this story before I wrote the post on the Burmese demonstrating here, because this gives us more background on why they would picket Catholic Charities.

Although the U.S. government has welcomed them, many immigrants who’ve relocated to the Pittsburgh region are struggling just to get by.

KDKA Investigator Andy Sheehan has found a group of refugees from Burma who have yet to find the American Dream.

They fled one of the most brutal regimes in the world in search of American freedom, but so far, the promise of a new life has eluded them.

A family of eight is living in a two-bedroom apartment and after three years of working, they say the money they make is not enough to support themselves.

Through an interpreter, an immigrant told Sheehan life was better back in the refugee camp.  [We heard this in Bowling Green, KY, too]

Two families were evicted for “over-occupying.”   Well, who set them up that way, the resettlement agency?  I just want to remind readers that the US State Department has an Operational Guidance requirement that sets guidelines for how many people can be resettled together.  If the “over-occupying” happened later, then I’m guessing it’s similar to what we heard in Bowling Green, KY—one family can’t pay rent and moves in with another!

The U.S. has taken in more than 10,000 Burmese refugees with the promise of housing, jobs and eventual citizenship. However, the 400* or so who have settled in the Pittsburgh area have not fared well.

Two families are being evicted from their apartments at the Prospect Park housing complex in Baldwin.

Apartment complex managers refused to come to the door when Sheehan attempted to ask them about the evictions, but the Burmese interpreter, Paw, says Prospect Park has rejected his pleas to let the families stay on.

“You know I talk with the landlord, they told me because they over-occupy,” Paw said.

What do you know?  It’s the Prospect Park housing complex—a favorite of Catholic Charities.  Check out this post I wrote about the dilapidated apartments, here, last March (follow links back and see a photo of the apartment building).  Almost makes you wonder if there is some sort of insider deal going on with the landlord.

So where have the evicted families gone, are they homeless like the Burmese man in Greensboro, NC?

Checking the stats it appears that all the Burmese brought to PA in the last few years must have been resettled in Pittsburgh.    I don’t have numbers for 2009, but in 2008, 414 were resettled in PA, in 2007, 170, in 2006 the number was only 16.   Virtually all of the Burmese refugees have not been in Pennsylvania very long.

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