First Gubernatorial Commitment of Funds to NYSESRP Brings Total State Commitment to $5 Million
Enhanced Services to Help Nearly 1,800 Afghan Evacuees Acclimate to Life in New York State
Focus on Helping New Arrivals Reach Economic, Educational, and Social Self-Sufficiency
Governor Kathy Hochul today announced that $2 million in additional state funding will be provided to help Afghan evacuees acclimate to life in New York, bringing the total state commitment to $5 million. This is the first gubernatorial commitment of such funds in New York State.
"For generations, immigrants have come to New York and the U.S. seeking freedom and opportunity—their contributions defining and strengthening the fabric of our state and nation," Governor Hochul said. "With Afghan evacuees fleeing widespread instability in their own country, New York State is proud to take a leading role in the massive resettlement effort, and with this historic, first-of-its-kind investment, we will connect people with the support they need to flourish in their new home. I also thank President Biden and Governor Markell for their efforts welcoming our friends and allies to our shores."
The funds will be administered through the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance's (OTDA) New York State Enhanced Services to Refugees Program (NYSESRP), and award letters will be issued within one week of the announcement. The funds will be distributed to more than one dozen nonprofit partners throughout the state that are providing intensive assistance to 1,790 Afghan evacuees that since September and continuing over the coming months have arrived or will arrive in New York State. Approximately 250 evacuees are scheduled to arrive in Albany, 495 in Buffalo, 190 in the New York City area, 50 in Niagara Falls, 275 in Rochester, 10 in Rockville Center, 420 in Syracuse, 50 in Utica, and 50 in Yonkers. Governor Hochul made the announcement while delivering virtual remarks on Afghan Resettlement efforts with White House Coordinator for 'Operation Allies Welcome' Jack Markell and Bard College President Leon Botstein.
The New York State Legislature has secured $3 million in funding for NYSERP in the current year's budget. Governor Hochul is committing an additional $2 million so existing services can be supplemented and allow for more intensive acculturation services for an extended period of time to address the immediate and long-term needs of persons arriving from Afghanistan.
The enhanced services supported with the additional funding include:
- Culturally competent orientations to help individuals and families acclimate to life in New York State.
- Additional support to help access mental health services to address recently experienced trauma.
- English language instruction.
- Access to job training and job placement services.
- Case-management to ensure children are enrolled in school and accessing services to support academic success.
- Help obtaining necessary benefits and drivers licenses.
- Other services that meet the needs of the individual or family so they can attain economic independence and thrive.
NYSERP contracts with nonprofit partners across the state that provide services including case management, employment and training services, English language training, as well as health and medical services to newly arrived refugees in the U.S., Special Immigrant Visa holders and asylees. The program funds local refugee resettlement agencies which work with individuals and families to help them attain economic and social self-sufficiency and integrate into the community.
This funding builds on existing State efforts to directly support and house Afghan refugees. For example, SUNY, partnering with OTDA and the NYS Office for New Americans, will provide housing, educational services, career and workforce supports, technology and a vast array of additional services with other community partners. In an effort to help Afghan evacuees resettle in New York, Governor Hochul announced in October that SUNY will open its 10 Educational Opportunity Centers to them by waiving the one-year residency requirement for admission. Some of SUNY's campuses are also partnering with local agencies to house evacuees in vacant dorms.SUNY will also provide excess laptops to Afghan evacuees to provideaccess to educational programming.
The resettlement of families and individuals from Afghanistan is the largest resettlement effort in such a short period of time that has occurred in our lifetimes. New York is proudly taking a leading role in assisting the Afghan evacuees' successful integration into the U.S.
Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Executive Deputy Commissioner Barbara C. Guinn said, "These families and individuals have already experienced great hardships and are in need of assistance to help rebuild their lives. We are grateful for Governor Hochul's leadership on this issue and for ensuring that New York continues to serve as a beacon of hope for those fleeing struggles abroad."
With Afghan evacuees fleeing widespread instability in their own country, New York State is proud to take a leading role in the massive resettlement effort.
White House Coordinator for 'Operation Allies Welcome' Jack Markell said, "I want to thank Governor Hochul and the people of New York for providing our Afghan allies with the welcome and the support that they deserve. In New York, and across the country, Americans are coming together to embrace people who put themselves in harm's way to support peace, security, and justice in Afghanistan alongside our mission there. The efforts I've seen in New York to help our allies rebuild their lives here truly reflect the best of America."
State Senator Neil D. Breslin said, "The Afghan evacuees have endured the unthinkable tumult of having to leave their homes out of fear for their safety and the well-being of their families. The least we can do is welcome them into our communities with open arms. By securing this funding, Governor Hochul is once again demonstrating herself as a true champion for the displaced Afghans and that she is fully cognizant of their needs as they transition into my district and others across the state."
State Senator Roxanne Persaud said, "This new investment in the New York State Enhanced Services to Refugees Program (NYSERP) will bolster its success in helping refugees not only acclimate to life in New York State, but thrive."
Assemblymember John T. McDonald III said, "As New Yorkers, we have an obligation to help those individuals and families that fled the tumult of Afghanistan in the hope of establishing a new beginning here in our state. This funding continues our state's long-standing tradition of a serving as a beacon of hope for displaced populations from around the world. I applaud Governor Hochul's unwavering commitment to assist the Afghan evacuees as they make a new home in our proud state."
Assemblymember Patricia Fahy said, "New York State will always welcome refugees and all those searching for a better life in adherence with those hallowed words inscribed on the Statue of Liberty; 'Give me your tired, your poor' I commend Governor Kathy Hochul for her swift response to the resettlement of our Afghan allies and for the establishment of the New York State Enhanced Services to Refugees Program. Our Afghan allies were there for us every step of the way during our 20 year mission in Afghanistan, and I'm proud New York State is stepping up to the plate and caring for those who cared for our service members. Here in the Capital Region, we know that immigrants and new Americans strengthen our communities, and I look forward to assisting them in their resettlement process alongside Governor Hochul."
Assemblymember Jake Ashby said, "I am proud that New York is doing our part to ensure that our country upholds the commitment we made to the thousands of Afghans who, over the last 20-years, have been valued allies and were instrumental in both assisting and protecting American soldiers - like myself. This funding is much welcomed news and I am proud that New York is leading the way on this important issue."
Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan said, "New York State has welcomed immigrants for centuries and experienced the benefits of their hard work, entrepreneurship and innovation. Governor Hochul understands we must recommit ourselves to being a leading destination for those seeking a better life for themselves and their families. As New York State works to resettle hundreds of Afghan refugees in search of a safe haven, Albany stands ready to welcome them to our community. With our large existing Afghani community, strong community based organizations, access to jobs and experience with refugee resettlement, we are proud to join the Governor as we continue New York's long tradition of being the destination of choice for new arrivals to our country."
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said, "I want to thank Governor Hochul for this much needed funding to help meet the critical housing, health, and safety needs of the almost 500 Afghan refugees Buffalo will become home to. Their sacrifices to help rebuild their communities and assist in the spread of democracy and the better treatment of women can never fully be repaid. However, our City's international reputation as one of good neighbors, with affordable housing, and strong economic growth will help them form a new and more prosperous life as the latest addition to the diverse mosaic of communities that make Buffalo so special. I welcome them not only as a sign of hope for Buffalo's future but also as an important reminder of our past as a welcoming City of immigrants that allowed so many to succeed in making a better future for their children. I am confident that with this funding from New York State, Buffalo's newest residents will find the same sense of home and future success for their own families now."
Rochester Mayor James Smith said, "As a first generation American, supporting those coming to our nation and our city seeking refuge is extremely important to me. These additional funds will make a real difference in helping our local agencies to provide a home for the Afghan evacuees coming to Rochester. I am grateful to Governor Hochul for making this commitment and ensuring we continue to provide sanctuary to those in need."
Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh said, "Supporting individuals and families who have fled from Afghanistan is a national, state and community effort. In the City of Syracuse, we have many partners working together to resettle Afghan refugees and help them forge stable and successful futures in our community. It is part of our vision of being a growing city that embraces diversity and creates opportunity for all. We thank Governor Hochul and New York State for sending these additional resettlement resources to Syracuse. The assistance is vitally important to our collective success."
Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri said, "For over a century, the City of Utica has been a warm and welcoming community to immigrants from all over the globe. Immigrants and refugees who resettled in Utica have revitalized neighborhoods, opened businesses and been a tremendous asset to our city. The Afghani refugees who are resettling in Utica share our values as many of them risked their lives to help our military or have worked for American companies. While diversity is our strength, both as a city and nation, there is a cost in successfully assimilating refugees, and I'm pleased the state is providing vital resources in the endeavor. I also commend The Center, and its Executive Director Shelly Callahan, for their outstanding work in welcoming and assimilating immigrants and refugees into our community."
Niagara Falls Mayor Robert Restaino said, "The immigration experience is at the heart of the expansion of America and is certainly central to the growth of New York State. Western New York, generally, and Niagara Falls, specifically, have prospered greatly from the contributions of immigrant communities over the decades. As these new immigrant families come to our area, this additional funding will help these new families settle more easily in our community and the City of Niagara falls thanks Governor Hochul for her commitment and investment in the future of these families and in our City."
Mayor Mike Spano said, “Yonkers is built on immigration, built from those who believe in the American dream. We welcome these refugees who had to leave their beloved homeland to seek safety, freedom and a better way of life. Yonkers will do its part to aid them in their transition in building their future.”
Commissioner of the NYC Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs Raquel Batista said, "At a time when Afghan migrants continue to face an uncertain future, it is critical we provide a safe and dignified welcome to New York. We thank Governor Hochul for leading this historic resettlement effort. This investment will help meet the immediate needs of our Afghan community and help them prosper in the long run."
HIAS New York Director Alla Shagalova said, "We at HIAS are delighted that Afghan evacuees will be included in the New York State Enhanced Services to Refugees Program, and very grateful to have these resources to help them start their new lives in the great state of New York."
Catholic Family Center Refugee and Immigration Services Director Lisa Hoyt said, "Governor Hochul granted our dearest Christmas wish. We appreciate the state's ongoing commitment to the refugee populations who come to settle in their New York State communities. This generous investment will return to New York in manifold ways as our new neighbors grow roots and become stable, even prosperous, members of our community, and part of our future growth."
U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants Director Jill Peckenpaugh said, "This funding comes at the perfect time to provide newly arrived Afghan families with the assistance they need to cover basic needs, set up their homes, and quickly become self-sufficient, contributing members of our community."
Journey's End Refugee Services Executive Director Karen M. Andolina Scott said, "We applaud Governor Hochul's allocation of additional funding for resettling Afghan evacuees in NY State. Journey's End Refugee Services and our sister resettlement agencies in Buffalo have been collaborating closely to provide Afghan evacuees arriving in Buffalo with a safe, soft landing, and we look forward to supporting many more. This extra funding will help all resettlement agencies in New York deal successfully and more efficiently with the challenges of housing and integrating such a large number of newcomers needing compassionate care and practical assistance."
International Rescue Committee in New York Executive Director Avigail Ziv said, "The IRC in New York is grateful to Governor Hochul for her support in welcoming newly arrived Afghans and helping meet critical needs as they rebuild their lives in our New York communities. The additional $2 million funding for resettlement assistance is crucial to extend support for the successful resettlement of the 1,000 Afghans that already have arrived in New York, as well as the 700 additional Afghans expected to arrive in the coming months. Refugee resettlement is a lifeline that the U.S. provides for the most vulnerable refugees at a time of unprecedented global crisis. We thank the Governor for preserving New York as a home for those making new lives here in the U.S."
Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York Immigrant and Refugee Services Director Mario Russell said, "Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York is encouraged by Governor Hochul's leadership and support to Afghans in need of assistance during this humanitarian crisis. As thousands of evacuees begin to resettle in their new homes and work to rebuild their and their families' lives in New York, our case managers and volunteers see each day, first-hand, how important this help is and what a difference it will make in answering important, everyday needs. Catholic Charities' long-standing commitment to welcome with dignity and respect every refugee and to work to reunify families in need is made stronger today, as is the great State of New York."
InterFaith Works President and CEO Beth Broadway said, "Since September 2021, InterFaith Works of Central New York has received and is resettling 71 Afghan evacuees, with more expected in the coming months. In many instances they left with little more than the clothes on their back. This funding is both timely and much needed, as we help these individuals and families settle into our community and begin their new lives. We commend Governor Hochul for continuing New York's proud tradition of welcoming those displaced by conflict and providing the resources to help them start anew."
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