Helping Ukrainian refugees find a home in New York One of the more daunting tasks facing Ukrainian refugees who come to New York is finding a place to live. A Manhattan real estate executive has been helping to find them apartments at reduced rents.

In New York, a nonprofit helps Ukrainian refugees make a home

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Refugees from the war in Ukraine have come to New York to escape the fighting. One of their more daunting tasks is finding a place to live. A Manhattan real estate executive has been helping to find apartments for them at reduced rents. As Jon Kalish reports, two Ukrainian sisters who work for him are playing a key role in the effort.

JON KALISH, BYLINE: Bob Perl is a longtime East Village real estate broker. He has two employees who emigrated from Ukraine years ago. He says that's why he was deeply affected by the plight of the Ukrainian refugees.

BOB PERL: I was spending too much time thinking about what I wanted to do to Putin. So I thought, I'm a landlord. I have properties in Little Ukraine. Let me at least help one refugee family. And it occurred to me, well, maybe I could help two refugee families and have them each pay half rent.

KALISH: Perl started the Ukrainian Habitat Fund, which not only finds homes for the refugees, but helps them adapt to a new life in America by organizing activities on holidays.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: (Non-English language spoken).

KALISH: Ten children and their mothers are painting traditional Ukrainian Easter eggs at the Ukrainian Museum, which is located in a section of Manhattan's East Village known as Little Ukraine. Many of the Ukrainians have left the neighborhood, but their restaurants, butchers and social organizations remain. Tetiana Lytvynenko worked as a graphic designer at a resort in Bucha that was destroyed by Russian bombs. She fled with her daughter.

DARINA LYTVYNENKO: Hello, my name is Darina Lytvynenko, and I'm not on a job. I'm in school. I'm almost 10 years old.

KALISH: Darina's father is back in Ukraine, serving in the military. She and her mom are living rent-free with a family in Brooklyn. They've been cooking borsht and crepes for their hosts but have to find a more permanent home in two months.

Tell me your name.


KALISH: How old?

ARTHUR: Eleven.

KALISH: Arthur Lande is one of the kids using a tool filled with melted wax to draw on the Easter eggs. He says he spent two weeks in an underground shelter when the war began. The boy now lives with his mother in a small studio apartment in Little Ukraine.

ARTHUR: When I first came here, I couldn't speak English at all. But now I learn it and I'm in good school. I'm pretty sure I want to stay here because I've got a lot of friends here.

KALISH: His mother, Yana, is an artist who abandoned their apartment in Odesa. She painted one of the most beautiful Easter eggs of the day.

YANA LANDE: I'm really very lucky because I'm understand who I am. I'm a mother, and I try to be happy even in difficult situations.

KALISH: Gabriella Oros and her sister are helping with the egg painting. They work directly with the refugee families on behalf of the Ukrainian Habitat Fund.

GABRIELLA OROS: I feel like I have so many children now - at least 25, you know? So you feel like you're part of their family, and they're part of yours.

KALISH: In some cases, the Ukrainian Habitat Fund pays half the rent for the refugees. The nonprofit has found homes for 15 families so far. It has a list of 80 more families who've asked for help.

For NPR News, I'm Jon Kalish in New York.


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