NC Churches Turn Old Church Buildings Into Housing for Refugees ‘for the Glory of God’

As the number of refugees coming into the United States continues to rise and overwhelm government agencies, Christians in North Carolina are stepping up by retrofitting abandoned churches into homes to provide affordable housing for some of them.

While some of the refugees are from war zones like Afghanistan, the southern border surge in migrants coming to the U.S. since the Biden administration loosened immigration policies has left resettlement agencies strapped.

According to the Brookings Institution, the bulk of the population growth the U.S. experienced last year was due to a rise in immigration. The group estimates nearly one million refugees attributed to the national population growth between 2021-22.

The State Department often provides three months’ housing costs for new arrivals before they have to find jobs, but the problem is the lack of affordable housing.

“The rate of arrivals is faster than we can find long-term housing,” said Adam Clark, executive director of World Relief in Durham, a resettlement agency in North Carolina. “There has to be a temporary housing piece for this to work.”

A local network of churches in a small corner of North Carolina is helping to fill that gap in their area.

Welcome House Community Network partners with one of 10 U.S. refugee resettlement agencies working to house the immigrants.

Nearly a dozen churches in the Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill areas of the state have repaired buildings for use by refugees. Altogether, the Welcome House Network has 40 churches that are a part of this housing, including churches in Virginia, Tennessee, and Texas.

“It’s increasingly difficult to find affordable housing for refugees,” said Marc Wyatt, a missionary who founded the Welcome House Community Network. “Churches have physical property and buildings that are underutilized. Rethinking the use of those buildings for housing is our vision.”

A Baptist church in Hillsborough is currently housing a seven-member Afghan family.

As CBN News reported, nearly 50,000 Afghan refugees began resettling in U.S. communities, most fleeing right after the botched U.S.-pullout led to a Taliban takeover of their country last August.

Meanwhile, Temple Baptist Church, which owns a ranch-style home a few yards away in Hillsborough is hosting an 8-member family from the Congo, Religion News Service (RNS) reports.

“A lot of (church) folks like to clean and prep the house,” said Randy Carter, pastor of Temple Baptist told the outlet. “Some people like to work in repairs or on the yard. A small group of folks are more engaged with the family itself.”

The church network can provide housing to most migrants for just $10 a day – an affordable price tag as many of the migrants arrive penniless.

In most cases, church properties are used for 90 days while families work to find more permanent housing options.

“We have assets that are sitting here and there are people coming into our community that need housing,” said Kristen Muse, senior associate pastor at Hayes Barton Baptist. “Our congregation is a generous congregation and when they see the needs, they want to reach out and use what we have for the glory of God.”

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