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Refugee family of 8 homeless in City Heights

Evicted, now living in hotel room
Posted at 11:27 PM, Dec 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-16 02:27:12-05

A family of eight refugees, one of the children, with Cerebral Palsy, is homeless after they say they were evicted from their City Heights home.

The Bukuru family fled to San Diego less than a year ago to escape war, after raising their six kids in Tanzanian refugee camps.

The family was working to learn English and trying to get work, but said after the owner sold the house, they had nowhere to go.

“Each step of the way they’re hitting road blocks,” said Rob Lee, who works as an event coordinator with San Diego Refugee Tutoring and tutors two of the kids. “They didn’t have a single place to go to, so they just had their belongings and they were out on the street, literally on the lawn just waiting for someone to help.”

Lee said when he and other volunteers found the family, they had been sitting on the curb for 11 hours, with blankets covering the wheelchair of their 10-year-old, disabled son, Levis.

They will die if they spend the night outside like this,” Lee remembered thinking. “They were homeless at that time and we had to scramble.”

Lee and other volunteers worked to gather money from the community, putting the large family into a small hotel room just to get a roof over their heads.

“It was heartbreaking, it was heartbreaking, I just couldn’t believe that it was happening,” Lee said.

Because of his Cerebral Palsy, Levis needs constant medical attention. After the losing their home, his parents have had to put work plans on hold to take care of him. Now, they're eating and surviving mainly on donations.

“(It’s been) very hard, (there’s) not enough space for all of them,” said Zainab Warsame, who works for the International Rescue Committee and has been helping the family since they moved to the U.S. “It doesn’t feel like home at all.”

The volunteers have set up a website to raise money to try and help the family find a permanent home, but said the Bukuru family isn't the only homeless refugee family they are working to help.

If you’re interested in donating, here is a link: http://bit.ly/2gHyW5a.