Helping Hiba’s Family Keep a Roof Over Their Heads

Geneva, 18 February 2020 - Most Syrian refugees living outside camps in Jordan struggle to meet their basic needs. ICMC’s Cash for Rent assistance program helps alleviate their vulnerability by allowing them to keep a roof over their heads when times are at their worst. After she fell ill, cash for rent assistance helped sole family provider Hiba to avoid eviction and accumulated debt.

Thanks to ICMC’s Cash for Rent assistance program, Syrian refugees don’t have to choose between paying their rent and satisfying their basic needs when circumstances are at their worst. Photo: Hiba, who benefitted from ICMC’s Cash for Rent program, and her three children. ©Amjad Amareen/ICMC Hiba* and her family live in a rented apartment in Jordan’s Irbid Governorate. In 2013, fearing the clashes that engulfed the region of her native Syria, she fled to Jordan with her three children, her brother and his family, their mother, and the orphaned children of a second, deceased, brother. Until their escape, Hiba’s family relied on agriculture as their primary source of income. She lived with her husband and her children in her in-law’s house in the Governorate of Dara’a until the day her husband abandoned the family.

In Jordan, Hiba began working as a housekeeper for her neighbors and became the family’s sole bread-winner. She earned enough money to pay the rent and respond to some of their needs until she fell ill.

A tumor in her lower back left her unable to work, and she now struggles to cover rent, her family’s basic needs, and her unforeseen medical expenses. “Now, my main source of income is the humble charity of my neighbors and the amount of money I am able to collect from selling some of my food rations,” she says. This income stands short against the monthly rent, causing her to accumulate debt with the landlord.

Hiba’s medical condition has failed to earn his compassion. “Every month, he shows up early in the morning, shouting and demanding his rent,” she explains. Living near the International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC)’s office in Irbid, Hiba decided to seek the organization’s assistance. “ICMC has never let me down,” she says, referring to help she received the previous year.

Although it is temporary, Hiba was able to find relief from the financial burden of her rent and focus on other priorities. “After he got his money, I haven't seen my landlord’s face. I was also able to provide my children with some of the food and supplies I used to sacrifice for the sake of my rent,” she says.

Over 620,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan live outside camps in different cities across the country. Most of them are financially vulnerable and rely on humanitarian aid as their primary source of income. Due to their harsh living conditions, they struggle to balance meeting their daily financial needs and paying their monthly rent. As a result, they must sacrifice some of their basic needs in order to keep a roof over their heads.

In 2019, ICMC assisted 343 Syrian refugee families with cash for rent assistance, which helped them avoid eviction and its negative impacts. Through this program, ICMC covers the rent of its beneficiaries for three months.

ICMC’s Cash for Rent assistance program is supported by the US Department of State's Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration.

*Name of refugee modified to protect anonymity