DETROIT — State Rep. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit) has sent a letter to the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development urging officials to restore funding to Detroit’s Freedom House, the only organization in the nation that provides housing, legal aid and wraparound services in one building to asylum seekers. Chang has also started an online petition to gain support for the organization.

“I am very concerned that the recent funding decision leaves Freedom House at risk of losing its funding within three months, putting asylees on the streets with literally nowhere else to go that can adequately meet their needs,” said Chang. “HUD grants make up more than 60 percent of the organization’s funding. HUD has supported Freedom House for more than two decades, and I urge them to restore the critical funding to this important organization.”

When asylees arrive at Freedom House they are typically have valid visas and workers help them complete the asylum applications. They may or may not know anyone in the U.S., and often hear of organizations such as Freedom House offering free services through word of mouth or the internet. Freedom House is at risk of losing funding because HUD’s Continuum of Care Board has changed their priorities and is no longer funding the transitional housing that Freedom House finds for asylees. This means that these individuals may have to rely on shelters, which can only house people for a maximum of 90 days. Without housing assistance, there is the very real danger that asylees will end up homeless.

“Freedom House has been in operation in Detroit for more than 30 years and they are well known and well respected for the work they do,” said Chang. “The people they help left their home countries because they have been the victims of torture or violence simply because they chose to express their opinion about the government, they support Democratic principles, or they’ve worked to ensure social justice for their fellow citizens. They would be at extreme risk if they went back to their home country. This is not the time to cut services to these people who have found their way to America because they believe that we do stand for freedom and democracy and they can be safe and build a life here. I urge HUD to restore funding to Freedom House, and I urge all concerned Michiganders to let HUD officials know that we still want to be a welcoming state and provide a safe place for people fleeing oppression.”