Helping Syrian refugees adjust to their new homes in Cleveland can range from assistance by nonprofit agencies to grassroots volunteer efforts. That is where Refugee Services Collaborative comes into play. Refugee Services Collaborative is a group of Cleveland organizations that have joined together to better serve the rising numbers of refugees resettling in Northeast Ohio. It includes the three Cuyahoga County refugee resettlement agencies and area school systems, healthcare providers, and community and faith-based organizations. One of these organizations is USCRI. Together with these groups, USCRI helps locate and furnish rental homes, provide counseling, assistance in applying for government documents and support in efforts to obtain health care, employment and education.
A study commissioned by the Refugee Services Collaborative of Greater Cleveland showed that for every $1 invested in refugee resettlement, $10 is returned to the local economy in the form of household spending and taxes. In 2012, that amounted to $48 million in the Cleveland area.
“For a city like Cleveland that has a declining population, I really think it’s a plus to have all these newcomers, refugees or others, coming into the city. It helps all of us,” said Karin Wishner, director of USCRI Cleveland. She also stated that refugees could help to offset the area’s population drain.
Helping these new Americans is a collaborative effort. Each refugee receives between $975 and $1,125 as part of the federal resettlement program, but that money quickly goes toward rent, utilities, deposit and other initial expenses. Refugees also must repay the plane fare that got them here, often about $1,000, according to Drake.
Refugees generally have experienced three major traumatic episodes: violence in their homeland, their escape, and resettlement. And despite this, they come to a new country and try their best to learn everything they can, with an incredible desire to succeed and do well. Partnering with Refugee Services Collaborative helps them to do just that.
Watch this video on RSC and refugees in the Cleveland area.