The Pittsburgh Foundation

Themes Heard from Immigrant and Refugee Providers

Below is what the Foundation's Program and Policy department staff heard after reaching out to nonprofit immigrant and refugee providers to better understand their concerns, challenges and needs to inform our most immediate grantmaking, convening and public policy activities.

Organizations serving immigrants and refugees voiced concerns about the lack of language translation of key messages, leaving non-English-speaking Pittsburghers behind in their ability to take precautions and prepare.

“We need advocacy, from others who are not us, to plead for things to be translated. How are people who do not speak English getting your information?” 

Many immigrants work in the service, retail and gig industries, and have been, or are likely to be, laid off.

“We’re getting a lot of calls from families who have lost their jobs. Many are hourly, working in restaurant fields. In one email this morning, 10 people lost their jobs in Moon.”

“It’s eye-opening to see how fragile the community is. So many in the hospitality and restaurant sector  have no money, (are) so fragile and more than double the number of communities reaching out for support… There’s so much need.”

Critical needs among the immigrant community include basic needs and housing.  

“People are fearful of how to pay their rent in the next month. Right now, we're just taking information to have a better idea of what we're looking at cost-wise. As well as utility payments.” 

“Urgent needs are food and baby items that are incredibly expensive. Today we are going to deliver diapers, formula, water, food to 26 families.” 

Support and relief services rarely include undocumented residents, leaving these individuals with fewer supports.  

“We need to know: can undocumented individuals access your support? If you're planning solutions for this pandemic with a perfect family in mind, then you are not helping. They are being affected like crazy. This particular population is often forgotten.” 

“Conversations are not including undocumented immigrants. They’re not welcoming, not open.”

Recommendations for Providing Support to Immigrant and Refugee Providers

  • Translate all messaging critical for individual decision-making, especially at the Health Department, City of Pittsburgh and significant health care systems.  
  • Clarify the eligibility requirements of supports and aid for individuals. 
  • Provide support for those who do not qualify for federal aid, such as medical assistance, unemployment benefits, SNAP food assistance and housing assistance.
  • Provide basic needs to those who may be afraid of going to basic need distributions due to their immigration status.