Atlas West, a developer based in downtown San Diego, has teamed up with Jewish Family Service of San Diego to offer free temporary housing to refugees, most of whom come from Afghanistan with a few starting to come from Ukraine.
Atlas West founder and CEO Daniel Shkolnik said that he and his family were refugees who fled Ukraine in 1979 when it was still part of the Soviet Union.
“Jewish Family Service and some other organizations helped my family get back on our feet. Now I’m able to give back and do the same for other refugees,” Shkolnik said.
Shkolnik lets refugee families stay in property Atlas West owns between the time when he buys it to the time when it’s gone through permitting and is ready to be redeveloped. He said that typically, that takes six to nine months.
“We have a large portfolio of properties. In any given month, we’re buying properties. There’s usually a structure on that property. It could be a single-family home, it could be a duplex. It runs the gamut. It provides a great opportunity for someone to live in for the time being,” Shkolnik said. “This housing isn’t designed to be permanent. This is a family that has permanent housing slated for them but it’s not ready.”
Ross Fackrell, director of refugee resettlement for Jewish Family Service of San Diego, said that the temporary housing is usually needed for two to three months at a time while the agency finds and prepares permanent housing for refugee families.
Atlas West’s help “provides a modicum of stability,” Fackrell said.
“It provides a family somewhere to stay until their permanent home is established,” Fackrell said. “Refugee parents will frequently tell you time and time again that stability for their children is a huge thing.”
Without the housing that Atlas West is providing, Fackrell said the families would likely be put up in hotels as a temporary measure.
Atlas West Group
Headquarters: Downtown San Diego
CEO: Daniel Shkolnik
Business: Housing developer
Social impact: Supports Jewish Family Service’s refugee resettlement program
Notable: Atlas West Group specializes in urban infill development
Jewish Family Service of San Diego
CEO: Michael Hopkins
Headquarters: Kearny Mesa
Business: Nonprofit service agency
Employees: 550 (nationally)
Notable: During the 2021-2022 fiscal year, Jewish Family Services San Diego served more than 71,000 individuals, including more than 14,000 children and 12,400 adults aged 60 and above.