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State Letter #07-15

Fall Update

Published: September 10, 2007
Types:
State Letter
Tags:
update

TO: STATE REFUGEE COORDINATORS
STATE REFUGEE HEALTH COORDINATORS
NATIONAL VOLUNTARY AGENCIES
OTHER INTERESTED PARTIES

FROM: Martha E. Newton
Director
Office of Refugee Resettlement

SUBJECT: Fall Update

Hello Refugee Resettlement Community:

The Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) would like to make you aware of several projects we have been working on this summer.

During the last several months we have been revising and updating the ORR website. We sought to make the new site as user-friendly as possible, including information that we think will be most beneficial to our audience. We have updated all sections of the website, all contact information for ORR’s partners, and all information regarding funding opportunities. Please note the “State Profiles” under the Data Section. This new addition to the site includes information on state employment, funding, and grants. Also, we have added “Refugee Arrival Data,” also listed under the Data Section. We are often asked about these numbers and therefore thought it would be useful to publish it for all site visitors.

Another project that ORR is working on evolved from conversations at the 2007 ORR Consultation, at which we discussed the need for increased collaboration with our federal partners. ORR is therefore pleased to announce a new, informal partnership with the Employment and Training Administration (ETA) at the U.S. Department of Labor. ORR has two team members who will work very closely with ETA staff over the next few months to learn more about resources that are available for refugee employment and training. One of their tasks will be to identify vocational training programs already in place, so that we can better communicate with you about these programs. They will also look for successful models where our partners are working in the workforce investment system, so we can identify and share best practices. Additionally, they may be able to highlight employment programs and relevant resources that might be available to ORR partners. ETA plays a critical role in helping workers gain the skills necessary for productive employment through the workforce development system, which is largely state-administered. This partnership between ORR and ETA is the first such effort of its kind in recent ORR history and we look forward to providing you with updates during the next few months.

Lastly, the ORR Housing Work Group is about to launch. Two weeks ago, ORR staff met with several senior officials at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), where we discussed challenges that all of us are facing when it comes to helping newly arriving populations find affordable housing. Anna Maria Farias, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Grant Programs in HUD’s Office of Community Planning and Development, has been chosen to lead HUD’s participation in this effort. Her knowledge of and commitment to the work of assisting new Americans integrate into our country particularly adds value to her housing expertise for this effort. ORR is looking forward to working with her and other HUD staff. ORR is also working closely with Mercy Housing, one of our technical assistance providers, who in 2000 established a refugee housing program. Since then, Mercy Housing has been helping refugees ease their transition into the United States. Moving forward, the ORR Housing Work Group will continue to reach out to community-level resettlement providers and social services providers, as well as state, local, and non-profit housing organizations. As we strive to eliminate the housing challenges refugees often face, ORR will keep our partners informed of the Work Group’s progress.

ORR hopes the above mentioned projects will continue to increase communication and collaboration amongst all of us in the refugee resettlement community, as well as with our federal partners. As always, we look forward to hearing your thoughts and comments.