Monica Ruiz of Casa de San Jose. Courtesy of the Pittsburgh Foundation.

“Pittsburgh is a city of immigrants,” says Monica Ruiz, executive director of Casa San José. “Unfortunately, immigrants didn’t come for a long time. These systems and structures that have been in place forever in other major cities just weren’t ready here.”

While Pittsburgh lags behind other similarly sized cities in terms of immigration, the region has seen an uptick in the growth of local Hispanic and Asian communities since 2010, according to census estimates.

To help these new neighbors settle in, Immigrant Services and Connections (ISAC), a consortium of five local nonprofits dedicated to supporting newly arrived Pittsburghers, has launched a website designed to assist immigrants and refugees with navigating city bureaucracy.

The new website offers services in more than 30 languages and connects new residents to information about resources like job training and housing assistance.

Speaking to NEXTpittsburgh, Ruiz said the new site will allow for easier connection and knowledge sharing between all of the ISAC organizations, which includes Literacy Pittsburgh, Latino Family Center of the Allegheny Intermediate Unit and the South Hills Interfaith Movement.

Brenda Green, supervisor of the Refugee & Immigrant Services program run by Jewish Family and Community Services — which manages the new website — said the site has been up for three weeks and has already led to a spike in referrals to her organization.

“People can access the website through their phone,” said Green. “We thought this would be a good way to reach people who are falling through the cracks.”

Bill O'Toole

Bill O'Toole was a full-time reporter for NEXTpittsburgh until October, 2019. He previously reported in Myanmar.