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The West Hill Neighborhood of Albany, New York has perhaps the highest rate of abandoned and vacant buildings in the City. This contributes significantly to a region-wide shortage of low-income affordable housing. At the same time, Albany is a desirable resettlement City for refugees due to its lower cost of living compared to larger cities, and number of opportunities and resources to that of other areas of the State. More than 4,000 refugees have resettled in the Capital Region since 2005. Language barriers and knowledge of American customs hinder their ability to access programs and services, housing and employment.

In response, Tim Doherty, a community development advocate and resident of the West Hill Neighborhood, created the Refugee Welcome Corporation. Conceptualized in 2011, the Refugee Welcome Corporation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that brings together local vacant houses with essentially globally homeless people.

Today, with a combination of ownership and leasing, the Corporation houses more than 100 people in 30 residential units across 20 buildings. The majority of these tenancies are single mother-led households.  Recently, the Corporation acquired a commercial building that has become central to collaboration and learning—the West Hill Refugee Welcome Center. The Refugee Welcome Center is a public activity space that accommodates a variety of neighborhood needs and services, including English language classes, student homework help, and public health lessons.

Support the Welcome Center


I came from Syria.

I came from Syria.  I escaped political turmoil.  I lost my home, my family, my community.  I'm alive because of you.  I'm here because of you.  Everyday I am thankful.  I survived—and this is my story.


I love pizza.

The first time I had pizza, I was with my brother.  We were exploring our new neighborhood and we saw a pizza place at the end of the block.  We had enough money with us to split a slice.  I was hooked.  I love food and I want my own restaurant some day.


My religion is not scary.

There are close to 2 billion Muslims in the world, 3.5 million in the U.S. alone.  I am one of them.  And this is how I celebrate Ramadan.


I speak English.

I arrived here in 2016.  I was scared and very depressed.  I began to take English classes so that I could start looking for a job.  You helped me learn.  You helped me communicate.  I can now tell you my story.