Publication Date

2004

Abstract

This Capstone research takes a look Atlanta public housing for residents 55 years or older. In my practicum work at Northside Shepherd Senior Center, I noticed an animosity and prejudice directed towards the seniors who were not native US citizens. These senior citizens were recent immigrants or refugees from former Soviet Bloc countries. The primary research question is: In public housing for people aged 55 and older in Atlanta, GA, why do native-born residents exhibit resentment and prejudice toward residents who have immigrated or are refugees from the former Soviet Bloc countries? The following sub questions help answer this question (1) How do the native-born residents view the immigrant/refugee residents? (2) Are social services more readily available to the FSBs? (3) Do the FSBs respond towards government assistance more gratefully because of previously living in a communist country with limited resources? And (4) Are there differences in the educational backgrounds and religious approaches of the two groups that might provide grounds for resentment? The data for this paper was gathered through interviews with 20 residents in two Atlanta city high-rises where there is a large population of immigrants and refugees. I discovered that the former Soviet Bloc residents (FSBs) never felt any prejudices from the American residents and that the reason for their comfort in the high-rises was due to their familiarity of living in a similar situation in their home countries. My conclusion, drawn from semi-structured interviews, for the resentment among the American residents, was that the native-born Americans (NBAs) felt the FSBs did not deserve the assistance that they were receiving since the FSBs had not lived or worked long enough in the US to earn the government aid. The practicality of this paper would be of interest to the Atlanta Housing Authority, senior citizen centers in Atlanta, and other areas where there is an influx of elderly immigrants and refugees. The findings from this Capstone study could encourage these organizations to facilitate cross-cultural trainings for both the elderly immigrant residents and native-born American residents.

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