Updated 9:08 p.m. July 27, 2018
After Abby Porth was alerted about three immigrant families who needed housing in the Bay Area, she sent out a July 27 email blast from the Jewish Community Relations Council, where she is executive director. It took less than an hour before more than a dozen community members stepped up to offer help.
Porth, who found out about the need from local activist Julie Chronister, said she received multiple responses offering “housing, to pay the rent on an apartment, to drive to San Diego to pick up and bring back to the Bay Area the family that is there, monetary and other donations, and to sponsor (yes! Sponsor!) a refugee family,” she wrote to J.
She also heard from people in the “labor community, the city of San Francisco and other faith communities who asked how they can help connect up with what we are doing.” And she reached out to her counterpart, Jewish Family & Community Services East Bay executive director Avi Rose, who was “immediately responsive and will be seeing how to plug these families in.” The Berkeley-based organization has an established refugee resettlement program.
The efforts to seek transitional housing for the three immigrant families – two from Honduras, one from El Salvador – started with Chronister, a parent at the Brandeis School of San Francisco, who recently traveled to a protest at the border and has continued her activism since.
Last month Porth and JCRC board members traveled to the southern Texas cities of Brownsville and McAllen, which are home to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention centers for immigrant children. On June 25 they joined others from across the country to protest the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy of separating children from their parents. Chronister, too, journeyed to Texas to take up the cause.
Since returning home, Chronister has been working to support organizations that aid immigrants, including one called Hand in Hand. That’s where she found out about the three families needing housing in the Bay Area.
Initially, Chronister was uncertain whether she’d be able to find assistance for all eight people.
“Like many of you, I am well aware of the housing crisis in this area for those that live here, and this ask is certainly a tall order,” she wrote in a July 27 email to her contacts. “Nonetheless, I thought I would put the information out there to see if any of you have some ideas/contacts/housing options for these families in transition.”
To host a family or provide financial support to immigrants, contact Julie Chronister at [email protected].