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Haitian refugee community shelter in need of repairs

Posted at 9:15 PM, Mar 31, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-01 02:15:31-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Every month, hundreds of Haitian refugees arrive at the U.S./Mexico border seeking asylum.

ABC 10News spoke with organizations working to fix up a Haitian refugee shelter that's in desperate need of repair.

"There is a huge need for shelter in San Diego," said Johny Oxeda.

Oxeda is the founder and CEO of the Haitian Refugee Community Center and a pastor.

As a former refugee, he knows what it's like to be dropped off on the streets with nowhere to go.

"You can't find a place to stay. You can't find a job. You can't find someone to help you," Oxeda said.

Oxeda is currently helping 300 Haitian refugees, but he said the biggest challenge is not having shelter for them.

Right now, dozens of refugees are crammed into a house in City Heights.

"We've been working with these refugees for a minute," said Terry Lenley.

Lenley is the co-founder of Luvworx, a humanitarian aid non-profit.

The organization is helping fix up the house to make it safer to live in.

"We have a lot of people already on the street, and we don't need any more people on the street," Lenley said.

The house is owned by the Fairmount Community Church.

There are asbestos issues, broken windows, and lead-contaminated paint on the house, which poses health risks.

Last year, the city cited the property for drainage issues.

"When we started, it was cabinets, water damage," said Chris Mayeux.

Mayeux, who volunteers with Luvworx, said that so far, they've updated the kitchen and bathrooms, fixed the drainage issues, and installed new appliances, including a water heater.

"They [refugees] were heating up water in a bucket and taking bucket showers," Mayeux said.

The non-profit has created a GoFundMe page to continue the project, which hopes to provide families with a safe place to stay.

"We're not just helping them with shelter. We're helping them with social services... with immigration because a lot don't even know what asylum means," Oxeda said.

The city said there is no longer an active case on the house.