Brooklyn businesses welcome refugees

A frightened child peeks out from inside a winter coat, below the gaze of a weary man with unkempt hair, on the Refugees Welcome Here poster that’s become a common sight on Brooklyn businesses like Playground Coffee in Bed-Stuy. While the city’s...

Brooklyn businesses welcome refugees

A frightened child peeks out from inside a winter coat, below the gaze of a weary man with unkempt hair, on the Refugees Welcome Here poster that’s become a common sight on Brooklyn businesses like Playground Coffee in Bed-Stuy.

While the city’s residents may be waiting with open arms, the city’s real estate market is not. Each refugee to the U.S. receives a one-time federal grant of $1,125, which stretches farther in upstate cities like Buffalo, which took in 298 Syrian refugees in 2016, compared to the 36 Syrians accepted in the five boroughs, according to State Department figures.

For Playground Coffee, the poster, designed by an Oakland-based artist, welcomes not just refugees but anyone feeling persecuted in the current political climate.

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“It’s an immediate thing that people can see,” said Ally Severino, who organizes community events at the café, ranging from discussions about police brutality to organizing against President Donald Trump. "'They have this in their window, I’m going to be welcome there.’ We’re at a time where people need a signal like that to feel safe."

A frightened child peeks out from inside a winter coat, below the gaze of a weary man with unkempt hair, on the Refugees Welcome Here poster that’s become a common sight on Brooklyn businesses like Playground Coffee in Bed-Stuy.

While the city’s residents may be waiting with open arms, the city’s real estate market is not. Each refugee to the U.S. receives a one-time federal grant of $1,125, which stretches farther in upstate cities like Buffalo, which took in 298 Syrian refugees in 2016, compared to the 36 Syrians accepted in the five boroughs, according to State Department figures.

For Playground Coffee, the poster, designed by an Oakland-based artist, welcomes not just refugees but anyone feeling persecuted in the current political climate.

“It’s an immediate thing that people can see,” said Ally Severino, who organizes community events at the café, ranging from discussions about police brutality to organizing against President Donald Trump. "'They have this in their window, I’m going to be welcome there.’ We’re at a time where people need a signal like that to feel safe."

A version of this article appears in the February 20, 2017, print issue of Crain's New York Business as "Open-door policy".

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