Enhanced Services to Help Afghan Evacuees Acclimate to Life in NY
Governor Kathy Hochul has 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 provide access 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.
Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (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 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.”