Becoming a Host Home
Thank you for considering becoming a Host Home for an asylum seeker through the Newton-Brookline Cluster of the Refugee Immigration Ministry. Below we provide some FAQs for you to consider as you make this big decision.
How long a time commitment do I need to make?
We are asking hosts to commit to housing a client for a 6-month period. Of course, if something goes wrong during that time, you always have the right to withdraw early.
What happens after 6 months?
In some cases, that will be long enough for the client to become self-sufficient and find their own housing. In other cases, they will need to continue receiving supported housing, and we will find them another home. Of course, you may choose to continue offering housing beyond 6 months, but there is no expectation that you do so.
What type of client might I house?
RIM is continually getting new clients and placing them with clusters, so the specific clients who are seeking housing are constantly changing. In general, clients can range from single adults to mother/child pairs to large families. They often come from Africa, Central America, or the Middle East. All of them have been through trauma and all are seeking a new life in the US. All have been vetted by RIM to ensure that their medical and legal needs are being met, and that their asylum case has a high likelihood of success.
How much space do I need to have available?
There is no one answer to this. It depends on what will make both you and the client feel comfortable. A separate “in-law” apartment would be great, but is not necessary. The client(s) should have their own bedroom(s) and preferably their own bathroom.
Do I need to cook for the client?
Assuming you do not have a separate kitchen for the client, you will need to share your kitchen. However, this can take different forms, ranging from keeping the client’s food completely separate to cooking / eating every meal together. You will set the rules on kitchen use (e.g., “only kosher food in this kitchen”; “please don’t use the fine china”; “I need to have the kitchen to myself this Thursday from 6 to 8”), but make sure that the client can meet their needs as well.
Is there support to help me with this big responsibility?
Yes! Our expectation is that you provide housing in a friendly, welcoming environment, but nothing more than that, although we welcome your greater involvement with the client’s life if you so choose. The cluster will provide a point person who is responsible for your client, along with volunteers to provide acculturation, babysitting, transportation, etc. The cluster will also cover the cost of food for the client plus a nominal rent. In addition, the professional staff at RIM will provide a case manager for the client, as well as training and support for you.
What are the advantages of doing this?
Hosting an asylum seeker can be an incredibly rewarding experience. You will learn about someone else’s culture and form a bond with a brave, interesting person. Plus you will be doing a really important good deed!
What happens if something goes wrong?
We recognize that conflicts of various kinds can arise in these types of living situations. At any point, you can request professional support from RIM to help clarify rules, address conflicts, etc. If at any point you feel uncomfortable with continuing the arrangement, RIM will remove the client.
Can I use a client to house-sit or to clean my house?
Generally speaking, the client should not be expected to do any work for you in exchange for housing. On the other hand, the client is expected to take on the normal responsibilities of living in a household (e.g., washing the dishes, keeping their own space clean).
Can I meet the client before committing?
Yes! In fact, you have to.
I am interested in finding out more. What happens next?
Please contact Bonnie Glickman (firstname.lastname@example.org) and let her know of your interest. She will come visit you to take a look at your space and talk over the situation, including which potential clients might fit in your home. If you want to move forward, you will need to provide a personal reference (preferably clergy) and submit to a background check (CORI). You will also receive a training session from RIM that will cover cross-cultural issues, active listening skills, boundaries, dealing with trauma, and RIM policies. The clients will then come to your home, together with their RIM case manager and Cluster point person, to meet you, see the space, and discuss house rules. If you still want to move forward, you and the clients will sign an agreement and the clients will move in!