Phoenix awards Haitian aid group COVID relief funds for new asylum welcome center

An aid and community group in Phoenix will receive more than a million dollars in federal funding to start a welcome center for fellow Haitians and other asylum seekers arriving at the border.

Founded in 2016, the Haitian American Center for Economic Development is a barebones operation that helps newly arrived Haitians navigate the US and Arizona.

It was selected by the city of Phoenix to receive funds from the city’s share of American Rescue Plan money for COVID relief.

Rodney Montreuil is the group’s founder. “The formula we want to use is a little bit of humanity, we want to show that we can serve our people in a more human way,” he said.

Montreuil says aid is especially important now, as more people from Haiti and elsewhere seek asylum at the border. The funds will go toward a new welcome center that includes a shelter, day care, food pantry, and literacy and mental health programs. He says many of the programs will also be open to community members in Phoenix. It’s slated to open in January.

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