In the past eight years, more than 5,000 of them have settled in the Spokane area.
Immigrants from the former Soviet Union who live in Spokane can sometimes act brusque. They moved here from a country where authorities could not be trusted. This inherent lack of trust, and the language barrier, can make communication and friendship with Russians difficult.
None of this, however, justifies housing discrimination against the Russians. Yet, leaders in the Russian community, and Spokane Human Rights Commission members, are concerned that discrimination happened to at least 11 Russian families in Browne’s Addition recently. They say the families were forced out of the Park Arms apartment complex because the landlords didn’t like Russians.
Western Williams, the Seattle owner of Park Arms, denies the accusation, but the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is investigating. However, the investigation won’t be complete until November.
It’s impossible to say what really happened between the Russians and the landlords, but it seems the right time to talk about the Russian immigrants among us and their right to fair housing.
The Russians are in Spokane to stay. In the past eight years, more than 5,000 of them have settled in the Spokane area. Many of them are evangelical Christians who fled religious persecution in the former Soviet Union. Spokane’s climate, vibrant Christian community and relatively crime-free environment have made the city particularly appealing to Russian immigrants.
Immigrants throughout Spokane’s history have embraced the city. The Italians and the Irish who came here in the early 1900s helped build the railroads. Spokane’s Japanese population has enriched Spokane for decades. Many of these immigrants arrived in Spokane lacking money and language skills.
But they found homes, raised their children in those homes and evolved into contributing members of society.
Now, the Russians are here. They need housing. If discrimination exists against them, let it come out into the open and be stopped immediately. Their future, and the city’s, depends on it.
, DataTimes The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Rebecca Nappi For the editorial board
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