Safety questioned after ceiling collapses in refugee family’s rental home

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- A refugee family living on Buffalo’s West Side is having a difficult first few weeks in the United States. On Sunday night, the ceiling collapsed in the kitchen of their rental home on Grant St.

“It fell on me and my kids we were all inside,” said Roger, who was visiting a family friend that lives in the home.

Roger told News 4 he was taking a call in the kitchen when the collapse happened.

“It’s really discouraging when someone comes here seeking a house and you find yourself in these conditions, this situation,” he said.

His family friend, Ley Baunda, lives in the house with his wife and seven children. They are refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

They told us they blame local resettlement organizations for placing them in an unsafe house.

“I’m afraid because there is many, many things that is not good in the house,” said Baunda.

Baunda’s landlord wouldn’t talk to News 4.

We reached out to resettlement agency Journey’s End who wouldn’t comment on this case.

Executive Director Karen Andolina Scott said U.S. Department of State representatives inspected their homes last year and didn’t find any major problems.

Andolina Scott said the entire refugee resettlement program is run by the federal government but Journey’s End is responsible for finding refugees a place to live. She said each family is assigned a case worker, who helps them adjust to life in America and helps when problems arise.

She also told News 4 the federal government gives Journey’s End money for each refugee to be used, in part, to pay for rent during the first few months of resettlement.

Community advocate and Pastor Randy Sargent said city-wide, refugees are still being placed in bad houses.

“You’re talking about people who have escaped war and poverty and diseases, and to come to America and to say they had it better in a refugee camp, it’s a terrible thing to hear,” said Sargent.

A spokesperson for the City of Buffalo told News 4 its inspector went to the house on Monday and found the ceiling repaired, and no other violations.

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