Syrian refugees complain about life in north St. Louis, while KMOX's Charlie Brennan listens

Syrian refugees complain about life in north St. Louis, while KMOX’s Charlie Brennan listens. (Kevin Killeen/KMOX)

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – After escaping war in their homeland, some Syrian refugees are afraid of getting shot in their new home in north St. Louis.

Syrians living in an apartment complex near Page and Hodiamont met with their neighborhood alderman and with a representative of the agency that placed them here, the International Institute.

The hour-long meeting dealt with complaints of gunfire in the night, roaches, mice and rats.

One Syrian woman, speaking through a translator, says it’s so bad she phoned friends at a refugee camp in Jordan to warn them not to come to St. Louis.

Syrian refugees want more police protection in north St. Louis

Syrian refugees want more police protection in north St. Louis. (Kevin Killeen/KMOX)

“Eight p.m. we cannot leave our apartment,” the translator said. “And if we want to leave, we need to be in a group. No one can leave the apartment as a single, or with one other — no — we need to be in a group.”

A representative of the International Institute, Suzanne LeLaurin, promised to meet with police to seek more patrols in the area.

LeLaurin also encouraged the Syrians to work on four things she says will change their lives within a year: Learning English, getting a job, buying a car and getting their children in school.

Suzanne LeLaurin of the International Institute tells Syrian refugees things will get better when they learn English, get a job, get a car and put their kids in school

Suzanne LeLaurin, of the International Institute, tells Syrian refugees things will get better when they learn English, get a job, get a car and put their kids in school. (Kevin Killeen/KMOX)

Syrians complained that the English classes they need are too far away – two bus rides away at the International Institute near Grand and Arsenal in south city.

There’s been some suggestion that English tutors from the Institute should come to the apartment complex, rather than making the residents go to them.

The residents also complained of some apartments being infested with bugs and mice.

LeLaurin told them to keep the food off their floors, and keep the doors and windows closed to keep out bugs and mice.

Alderman Jeffrey Boyd also attended the meeting and predicts the Syrian immigrants will do better as time goes by.

“Most of these families two years from now probably won’t be here, because they’ve gotten jobs, and they’ve moved on to better living conditions and better surroundings,” Boyd said. “It’s kind of like an upgrade. But this is not a bad start.”

(TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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Comments (8)
  1. jerome crosson says:

    Why are refugees from the Middle East being directed to north St. Louis County ? Obvious problems with the area, including – substandard housing, crime, substandard education for the children. Somehow, the word “opportunity” does not seem to apply.

  2. Walt Roddy says:

    Dear Mr. Brennan. Through our parish charity I have dealt with over 5,000 individuals many of which are women and children suffering terrible poverty in the past 11 years. I have been to ” Hodimont” and have helped an Iraqi family who lived there a few years ago. We moved the family to a small home for rent in South City as the father maintained his job bagging groceries at a store. We provided food , and payments on rent and electric bill shutoffs and to this day the family is making it . The children are 4.0 students and the oldest daughter wants to be a doctor. I would recommend you talk to the family to get their perspective of ” Hodimont ” and what are the things that changed their lives here in St. Louis. Please realize that the International Institute is a wonderful organization… They can only do so much… We ALL need to help those in need and not just talk about it.

  3. Ian says:

    I have lived in the STL region most of my life and spent a few years in the city as a young man, and I would never attempt to raise a family there. Just living as an individual there will be a challenge. Anybody with any education, ambition, or resources has left the city years ago, and only the disadvantaged are left behind.

    There is a bit of irony that these refugees had expectations of living a “normal” life in the USA and they were dumped in St. Louis. which is easily one of the most dangerous places on earth (usually in the top ten lists of worst cities on earth). It’s an interesting perspective that they are warning the people back in the refugee camps in Jordan not to come to St. Louis. Perhaps they should focus on getting into Europe, I hear the Germans are quite excited at having millions of new citizens to care for.

  4. David A. Clark says:

    This is hardly North St. Louis. This location is just outside the CWE. Less than three miles from my house in University City. Outside of the poor apartment complex, the reporting on the deplorable conditions of the area have been there for a while now. It was the situation before it was decided where the refugees would be housed. I don’t know… I sure hope it all gets worked out but this makes it look bleak. The story is filled some some harsh undertones for those living there who are from the area. It’s not so easy to just “upgrade” out of the area and that isn’t exactly a bright outlook overall for the people of st. louis. I hope this will instead lead to net positive for the area but it has to start with jobs jobs jobs…

  5. Ron Spicer says:

    They have no right to be in North America. They will bring a civil war, and wil wil kil them all.

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