Hochul welcomes Afghan refugees in NY with 100 coming to Albany


ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Gov. Kathy Hochul welcomed the Afghans who will be resettling in New York communities. Local agencies including in Albany are stepping up to help these families rebuild.

The Afghans, including some that have already arrived, are expected to be placed in their new communities between now and March 31. This is expected to include up to 100 in Albany, 335 in Buffalo, 240 in the New York City area, 200 in Rochester, 248 in Syracuse, and 20 in Utica.

Those arriving in New York will be assisted by agencies funded by the Bureau of Refugee Services, which is located within the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance. “We have a strong desire to welcome as many families as want to relocate here to the city of Albany,” said Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan.

Hochul pledged to offer the refugees assistance via state-supported resettlement agencies as they rebuild their lives. They will be offering free support to find a job, learn English and help with legal assistance.

Sheehan says they want to get them back on their feet. “We want to help them find housing, get a job, become news employees, and get their children enrolled in our schools,” she said.

RISSE is a non-profit organization in Albany that serves refugees and immigrants. They are dedicated to helping refugee families build sustainable lives through teaching English, job assistance, and so much more. Operations Director Francis Sengabo says they are here to equip refugees with life skills and help them adapt to U.S. culture.

“Yesterday, we helped two families get a job through RISSE. So we are ready to help them with whatever they need,” said Sengabo.

Mayor Sheehan says one challenge may be finding housing for refugees. The city of Albany is looking into temporary options. “Whether that be in partnership with some of our hotels that still are seeing pretty big occupancy availability,” Sheehan said.

RISSE says they are always looking for volunteers. The Office for New Americans also has a hotline that can connect immigrants and refugees to free services across the state. The hotline can be reached at (800) 566-7636 from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday, except holidays, with assistance available in more than 200 languages.

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