First Coast News | Jacksonville moms advocate for refugees living in unsuitable conditions

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – In its 25 year history, World Relief Jacksonville has resettled thousands of refugees, but its January placement of a family from the Congo is getting the attention of three Jacksonville moms.

“The living conditions are unsuitable for a family with six children, said Justine Wadyko.

Deo is a refugee from the Congo, now living in Arlington in the Charter Landing Apartments. His command of the English language is poor but one of the moms speaks French and translates.

“He said when he came the first time he doesn’t know anything and the thought everything was fine,” said Catherine Amega.

There are others from the Congo living in the same apartment complex.

“We’ve only been in two apartments in this complex and both have had significant problems,” said Wadyko.

Jose Vega of World Relief Jacksonville said the family was placed in the Arlington apartment complex, to be close to other refugees from the Congo.

“He disagrees with the situation,” said Amega.

The moms say there is no one advocating for the family so they are taking up their cause.

“Clearly the people who are suppose to be their advocate, who brought them over is World Relief,” said Wadyko. “But they’re not doing anything.”

The big concern is mold, repeated water leaks and a foul odor in the carpet

“You’ve got mold you’ve got a continue problem with leaking,” she said.

Problems they would like to management to repair or the family relocated. “We are way over our head in what is going on here we just set out to help a couple of families,” said Wadyko.

The head of World Relief Jacksonville said this case is an unusual one.

“We are here for what our clients want to do,” said Jose Vega.

Vega said he asked the management to move the family and was told there are no other apartments available and he asked to have the carpet replaced and his request was denied. “There’s a smell in the apartment and I don’t like it, ” said Vega.

He said he can probably relocate the family but he needs to know what they want to do. “If Deo wants to move he has to tell me what he wants,” he said.

But these advocates say World Relief Jacksonville should help.

World Relief Jacksonville gets funding to help families; about $1,000 per person. Deo has a wife and six children, so $8,000 is in the fund to help them. They’ve been in the Arlington apartment since January 18 and were afraid to complain until now.

“I do not blame them – I blame World Relief Jacksonville for not being an advocate for them,” said Wadyko.

Read more at Jacksonville moms advocate for refugees living in unsuitable conditions.