Refugees who recently arrived from Kuwait, and who still have found no place to go since landing in Baltimore, may soon move from temporary quarters at an airport hotel to a refugee resettlement center in Carroll County.
A $120,492 federal grant to pay for the move will go for approval today before the state Board of Public Works, said Clarence Brown, a spokesman for the state Department of Human Resources.
The money, which comes from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, would go to the New Windsor Service Center, a Church of the Brethren resettlement agency in New Windsor. The contract with the center would last 30 days, Brown said. The state, however, is asking for another federal grant that would cover refugee settlement services for an additional 60 days.
Starting Sept. 10, three planes have landed at Baltimore-Washington International Airport, bringing 614 people from Kuwait who were fleeing the Iraqi occupation. About half are non-U.S. citizens who qualified for immigration to the United States through their American-born children. The U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Services says these new arrivals have temporary residence for six months, but otherwise their status is unclear.
Many of the refugees have gone on to stay with friends or relatives in this country and launch a new life here. The New Windsor Service Center is expected to take in refugees who outlast the four days' worth of federal loans they received at the airport for temporary shelter at a hotel nearby.
Jane Yount, who works with the refugee program in New Windsor, said the center could accommodate 50 to 60 people. It would provide them with food, shelter, medical care, counseling on immigration issues, cultural orientation and English classes, if necessary. The center can also help them find sponsors -- individuals or churches -- who are willing to make a three-month commitment to shelter refugees and guide them to self-sufficiency in this country.
Yount said that if the board approves the contract, she expects to start taking people in this afternoon.