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MPR News

1981: The challenges of housing

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Original broadcast date: March 23, 1981

MPR News reporter Tom Meersman reports on the housing challenges — practical, cultural, governmental and social — refugee families face after arriving in Minneapolis.

The Vu family, for instance, lives in the Phillips neighborhood of Minneapolis. After five months in Minnesota, the family finds itself in an overcrowded apartment with plaster crumbling from the ceiling and a leaky gas furnace.

"It's better than a refugee camp, Vu says, but not quite what he expected in America," Meersman reports.

Hmong in Minnesota

Four decades ago, the first Hmong refugees began arriving in Minnesota. At that time, the number of Hmong could be counted in the dozens.  

Now the Twin Cities metro area is home to 64,000 Hmong people, making it the largest urban population of Hmong in the country. This story is one of many, culled from the MPR News radio archives, as we look back at the history of the Hmong people, both in Southeast Asia and Minnesota.