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Statesman Journal: Oregon Legislature approves $18 Million in additional support for Afghan refugee resettlement

Posted by | Raeann Boero, Communications Coordinator

The House convened for a special session on Monday and passed a bill that will allocate funding to the resettlement of Afghan refugees.

“SB5561 – passed in a special legislative session on Monday – approved more than $400 million in funding to address various issues such as rent assistance, farmers facing drought and illegal marijuana grow operations.

The bill allocated $18 million to support Afghan individuals and families with housing, education, legal aid, job training and culturally-specific support as they settle in the state.

Of that $18 million, $5.25 million has been earmarked for short-term food and shelter, $2.9 million will support case management services, $5.9 million will be for rental assistance and $2.89 million is for immigration and legal services. An additional $807,600 will be available for culturally specific assistance and interpretation classes.”

Read the full article: https://www.statesmanjournal.com/story/news/politics/2021/12/15/afghanistan-refugees-oregon-state-legislature-approves-additional-support-resettlement/6509377001/

In light of this new legislation, Catholic Charities Director of Refugee Services, Matthew Westerbeck, spoke on OPB’s Think Out Loud on Tuesday to discuss what this legislature will mean for aiding Afghan families and individuals resettling here in Oregon. “Across the six agencies who provide refugee resettlement in Oregon…we’re currently around 250 individuals [resettled so far]…[and] we are preparing for a total of around 700 to be here by the middle of February. In order for Oregon to have the capacity to receive as many families as possible…the state needed to help provide that capacity and the funding to get there.”

Matthew and his team, along with volunteers from the community, have been greeting these families and individuals at the airport to welcome them to Portland.
“It’s always the highlight of any week for us in this work. All of our teams are working very long days, late nights, and weekends to continue to provide these services. Those moments [at the airport] being a part of knowing that we are helping those families as they take that next step to rebuild their lives and have the safety that they’re looking for is incredibly humbling and rewarding. It’s what keeps us going.”

To listen to the full interview: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/oregon-lawmakers-address-illegal-cannabis-and-afghan/id274122573?i=1000544980266