Albany – Today, March 15, 2021, Assemblymember Jon Rivera and Senator Sean Ryan announced funding for the New York State Enhanced Services to Refugees Program has been put forth with overwhelming support in both Legislative houses. As part of the 2021 collective state budget process, the Assembly approved $3 million in funding and awaits the next step in the overall budget approval process.
The Enhanced Services to Refugees Program provides enhanced services so that refugees can successfully integrate into local communities. The program was started in 2017 as a response to the federal government’s retreat from refugee resettlement.
Refugees and immigrants have been instrumental in reversing the population decline in cities like Buffalo. Over 90% settle in Upstate, New York making the Enhanced Services to Refugees Program vital to the region.
Four local agencies provide the enhanced services through this program: Catholic Charities of Buffalo, International Institute of Buffalo, Jewish Family Services of Buffalo, and Journey’s End Refugee Services.
Assemblymember Jon Rivera said, “The refugee community is an integral part of WNY’s future. As others are leaving the region, refugees are bringing new life and culture to once forgotten neighborhoods. A strong support system for refugees has already shown to pay tremendous dividends, as we see new businesses fill vacant storefronts and new homeowners buy vacant properties. Their contribution to supporting our economy and growing the region is crystal clear.”
Senator Sean Ryan said, “By securing enhanced funding for refugee resettlement agencies, the New York State Senate and Assembly have affirmed how important refugees are to the cultural and economic fabric of our state. Refugees stem population losses in Upstate New York communities and contribute to economic growth by opening small businesses and employing local workers. They contribute to the tax base and represent enormous spending power. When the previous President took office, he began drastically cutting refugee admissions, threatening the economic progress of cities across Upstate New York. President Biden made a commitment to restore the resettlement infrastructure both at home and abroad and this funding has and will continue to ensure that New York is a leader of refugee resettlement.”
As an assemblyman, Senator Ryan helped secure $7 million in funding since the inception of the program.
Budget negotiations will take place over the next two weeks. The state budget is due April 1.