Refugee Housing 101

Welcome to World Relief Chicago’s new blog!

This month we’ll be sharing information about affordable housing for refugees, a pressing issue affecting nearly all refugees arriving in Chicago today.

Through a three part series, we’ll explore how refugees find housing, why affordable housing for refugees is so challenging to find, and how our case workers are responding to this crisis. We’ll also suggest ways that you can get involved and help refugee families find affordable, safe housing in our community.

Let’s jump in with our first post, Refugee Housing 101.

Volunteers and supporters new to World Relief often wonder how our refugees find housing. To answer this question, it’s helpful to have a basic understanding of how refugees end up in the United States in the first place.

Refugees are people fleeing conflict or persecution. Once they register with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), many refugees await resettlement to a third country like the United States or Canada. Refugees wait years to be resettled, most of them never making it to a resettlement country like the United States.

After months of medical and security checks, the refugees who do end up being resettled are eventually assigned to a refugee resettlement agency like World Relief. Typically, the resettlement agency is notified of the refugee individual or family’s arrival about two weeks before they fly to the United States.

Over those two weeks, the resettlement agency will search for market rate housing for the refugee individual or family in an affordable neighborhood. In Chicago, refugees are most often housed in apartments in Rogers Park, Uptown, West Ridge, or Albany Park.

Resettlement agencies generally seek to develop a network of landlords willing to rent apartments to their refugee clients. Organizations like World Relief establish solid connections with landlords and property management companies in the city, but as we’ll see in our next post of the series, finding refugee housing in Chicago can prove to be a challenging endeavor.


VOLUNTEER || If you’re interested in volunteering in the area of housing with World Relief Chicago, learn more and fill out an application at

HAVE A HOUSING LEAD? || If you are a landlord or know a landlord who may be interested in renting an apartment to a refugee family in Chicago, please email

GIVE || A tax-deductible gift to World Relief Chicago increases our capacity to tackle challenging issues like finding affordable housing for our refugee clients. Donate online here.


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