Senator Sean Ryan and Assemblymember Jon Rivera Secure $3 Million in State Budget for Refugee Resettlement Agencies

Refugee resettlement agencies to receive 200% increase in funding from last year’s state budget – will allow New York to lead the nation in refugee admissions as President Biden Commits to restarting refugee program

Funding will be targeted to Upstate communities

Albany – Today, April 6, 2021, New York State Senator Sean Ryan and New York State Assemblymember Jon Rivera announced that the state budget for FY 2021-2022 includes $3 million in funding for refugee resettlement agencies through the New York State Enhanced Services to Refugees Program (NYSESRP). This funding is $2 million more than last year’s allocation of $1 million for the program.

State funding for refugee resettlement programs allows agencies to assist with long-term refugee integration, helping ensure refugee families in New York have access to safe housing and proper support to integrate them into society. It has a particularly large impact on communities in Upstate New York, as 90 percent of New York’s refugees are resettled in cities like Buffalo, Syracuse, Rochester, Utica, and Albany.

As the first state to provide funding to support refugee integration with the creation of NYSESRP in 2017, New York has been a leader in its commitment to refugees. President Biden has announced that the federal government will expand refugee admissions in the coming year, and this funding will ensure that New York is prepared to accept new arrivals from around the world.

Senator Sean Ryan said, “Buffalo has been New York’s leading refugee resettlement region with more than 16,000 refugee arrivals since 2002. The cuts to the refugee program during the last administration have been devastating for Upstate communities and integrating refugees into local communities has been especially challenging during the pandemic. Supporting refugee resettlement is more important than ever from both a moral and an economic standpoint. Refugees have been instrumental in reversing population decline throughout Upstate New York and they contribute significantly to the state’s economy. With President Biden pledging to welcome more refugees to our country later this year, this funding will help New York lead the nation in refugee resettlement.”

Assemblymember Jon Rivera said, “This funding allows resettlement agencies to continue to more fully serve refugees in WNY. Throughout our history our community has provided a safe haven for refugees escaping persecution as they help to create a new and vibrant culture in local neighborhoods. A seamless transition also allows refugees to immediately contribute to the economy. President Biden’s promise to overhaul the federal program will allow more refugees to settle in Buffalo and our local agencies will be prepared to welcome them.”

Eva Hassett, Executive Director, International Institute said, “The legislature's commitment and the leadership of Senator Sean Ryan and Assemblymember Jon Rivera cements Buffalo and NYS as a welcoming, supportive place, and one that understands the social and economic value of refugees. WNY is now well positioned to help those who are here, and those who will come, integrate successfully- into jobs, English and more, which improves life for all.

Shelly Callahan, Executive Director, The Center said, "The Center in Utica is grateful for the commitment of NYS to the successful support and integration of refugees into our communities through the passing of $3 million to fund the New York State Enhanced Services for Refugees Program.This past year, NYSESRP funding supported workforce development and COVID services, including contact tracing, essential workforce case management, and supporting access to vaccination clinics, among many others. New York State's commitment to supporting refugees beyond the initial resettlement period is unique among states and positions refugees and the communities that welcome them to achieve higher levels of integration and success across sectors."

Jill Peckenpaugh, Director, Albany Field Office, U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants said, “This funding enables refugees to more quickly integrate and become contributing members of our local communities. In the past year, having case managers to assist with everything from food deliveries, to helping refugees who lost their jobs, to educating English language learners about COVID and vaccines, has made all the difference.”