Letter to the Editor: Renting to Refugees


My name is James (Jim) Kelley. My wife, Margaret (Margo) Tully, and I moved to The Broadway in April 2004 as soon as the City began issuing occupancy permits. I served in the Federal Government for 25 years – 22.5 years with the Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) and 2.5 years as Country Director for Peace Corps/Swaziland. I worked 16 years in six African countries (Tanzania, Lesotho, Sierra Leone, Swaziland, Uganda, and Ivory Coast) for a variety of USG and non-governmental organizations. Based in Embassy/Kampala, Uganda, in 1995, I served in the East African Great Lakes Region in the wake of the genocide in Rwanda. Based in Embassy/Abidjan, Ivory Coast, I covered the refugee-affected countries in all of West Africa.

Margo and I would like to register our support publicly for the “Renting to Refugees” initiative that Welcoming Falls Church is proposing to the City. We urge the City Council to budget $50,000-100,00 for rental assistance for five refugee families who would be resettled in the City in the next 6-12 months.
Falls Church City should do this because:

This will be tangible proof of the City’s Welcoming character,

This will add to the City’s international and ethnic diversity,

The needs and numbers of refugees are increasing measurably,

This will contribute modestly to American leadership in refugee affairs.

Paternal pride prompts me to share with you that my son, David Kelley (GMHS ’92), serves as the Housing Coordinator in the Austin office of Refugee Services in Texas.

Thank you very much for your consideration.

Jim and Margo Kelley
Falls Church