Housing for Immigrants

By Yenni Djahidin GrowEvery year, thousands of people from around the world come to the United States to study, work, or settle permanently. These people need places to live. I'm Sarah Long.And I'm Steve Ember. How these newcomers find a place to live is our report today on the VOA Special English program, THIS IS AMERICA.

People who move from one country to another are called immigrants. Immigrants move to the United States for many reasons. For example, many people have come to the United States to escape wars in their countries. These people include immigrants from Vietnam, the former Yugoslavia and many countries in Africa. Many immigrants also come to the United States to seek freedom and a better life.

The United States Immigration and Naturalization Service, or I-N-S, is the government agency that deals with immigrants. It reports that more than six-
hundred-thousand people were given permission to live permanently in the United States in Nineteen-Ninety-
Eight. The Commerce Department reports there are more than twenty-five-million people living in the United States who were born in other countries. About one-
third of them are naturalized American citizens.There are also illegal immigrants in America. These foreigners live in the United States without proper documents. In Nineteen-Ninety-Six, the I-N-S estimated there were five-million illegal immigrants in the country. Most of them come from Canada, Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, and China.

About two-million illegal immigrants live in the state of California. Most of the others live in the states of Texas, New York and Florida. Many illegal immigrants have been expelled from the United States. In Nineteen-Ninety-Seven, more than one-hundred-
thousand illegal immigrants were expelled.

((MUSIC BRIDGE))When immigrants arrive in the United States, they need a place to live. Some people live temporarily with family members. But many immigrants do not have relatives in the United States. Some people can ask for help from private organizations. One of these is the Boat People S-O-S.

Hien Vu is program coordinator for the Boat People S-
O-S. She says her organization helped many refugees from Vietnam find places to live. She says refugees who arrive in the United States usually are given a place to live for three months.

After that, the organization helps them find a new place to live. The organization also provides other help for the refugees. This includes helping them find a job and schools for their children. Ms. Vu says her organization tries to help the refugees understand their new life in the United States.Living in the United States can be very different for people from many developing countries. Newcomers sometimes need time to understand life in this country. Finding a place to live is just the first step. Most new immigrants do not have enough money to buy a home. So they must rent a house or an apartment. Young people who come to the United States to study often live in student housing. This housing is provided by the college or university. Other students rent apartments or houses near the universities.Americans live in different kinds of housing. Many Americans live in single-family houses. This kind of house usually has a lot of living space. It is surrounded by land. And it costs a lot. There are also smaller houses called town-house or row-houses.

Town-houses usually have two or more levels. They are attached to each other in a row. There may be a small amount of land in the back of the house.

Americans also live in high rise buildings that have many apartments. Each family has its own apartment with several rooms. Some apartments have swimming pools and sports centers that are shared by everyone who lives in the building.Americans live in big cities and small cities. They live in the center of the city or in areas near cities called suburbs. It depends on where they work and what kind of house they want to have. Usually, living in a big city is more costly than living further away from the city. Living in a city also is more crowded and noisier. However, cities have more public transportation like buses and trains. And cities have more stores, offices and eating places.

Many new immigrants do not have a car or are not able to drive. They usually choose to live in the city or near public transportation. Public transportation operates from morning to late at night.

((MUSIC BRIDGE))Looking for a place to live can be done in many ways. You can look in newspapers and magazines to find apartments and houses that are for rent or for sale. You can find information on the internet computer network. Or you can get help from a real estate agent. A report from the National Association of Realtors says almost four in five Americans use a real estate agent to help them find a house to buy or rent. The agent also can help the buyer get the money to pay for a house.Most Americans pay for their houses through a series of payments called a mortgage. A bank or mortgage company lends the buyer the money to pay for the house. The buyer pays the company every month for a period of up to thirty years.

Mortgage payments can be about the same amount of money as rent. However, many new immigrants do not have enough money to buy a home. They also may not be able to get a mortgage until they have worked in the United States for several years.The cost of housing in the United States is different from one place to another. The amount of money a family spends to buy a home depends on how much money the family earns. The National Association of Realtors says the average first-time home buyers earned almost fifty-thousand dollars a year. They bought a house that cost around one-hundred-thousand dollars. They made a first payment of five-thousand dollars. And they paid the remaining cost every month for a period of ten to thirty years.

((MUSIC BRIDGE))Ceci Diaz had a different experience. The thirty-year-
old woman came to the United States from El Salvador a few years ago. She has a legal permit to live in the United States. Miss Diaz earns money by taking care of a child. She recently moved from her sister's apartment. She said it was very difficult to find an apartment to rent. A friend helped her find an apartment near Washington, DC.

After she found the right apartment, the next step was easier. She said she had to show the owner of the apartment her tax return statement. She had to prove that she earned at least thirty-thousand dollars a year in order to rent the apartment.Ms. Diaz has a four-year-old son and has been separated from her husband. She said she likes the apartment because it is clean and is in a nice area. She pays seven-hundred-twenty dollars a month for a one-bedroom apartment. The apartment building has a swimming pool, a place for children to play, tennis court and many places to park cars. She said she likes living in the United States and plans to apply for citizenship soon.Not every immigrant in the United States is lucky to find a nice place to live. Many immigrants live in crowded apartments. Many immigrants are poor. Four years ago, a Commerce Department report said twenty-
one percent of the foreign-born population in the United States was poor. About thirteen percent of the American-born population was poor. The report said about forty-seven percent of the foreign-born population owned homes in Nineteen-Ninety-Seven. This compares with almost sixty-eight percent of the American-born population.

However, reports say in recent years there has been an increase in immigrants buying houses. This is especially true near big cities like Washington, DC. Experts say most immigrants will work hard to learn everything they can before making a decision to buy a home.

This program was written by Yenni Djahidin (ja-HEE-
din) Grow. It was produced by Caty Weaver. This is Sarah Long.And this is Steve Ember. Join us again next week for another report about life in the United States on the VOA Special English program, THIS IS AMERICA.