Bringing the Economy Home

Boise Mayor Spotlights Refugees’ Welfare

Molly Messick / StateImpact Idaho

Iraqi refugee Qusay Alani with Dhiaa and Ahmad, two of his three sons. They, along with Alani's wife and older son, came to the U.S. with travel loan that totaled more than $4,000.

The issue of refugees’ economic well-being has been a focus of ours here at StateImpact.  This week, Boise Mayor David Bieter made refugee resettlement and employment one focus of his annual State of the City Address.  Bieter had this to say:

Over the last few years, in this tough economy, it became obvious to me that the challenges refugees face are compromised further in a tough economy.  So we convened a roundtable of the Idaho Office for Refugees, refugee agencies, our partners in the community, and the result of that is a refugee resettlement comprehensive plan and a way forward to help them with housing and transportation, social integration.  We don’t just benefit them, but we benefit our community as a whole, to the extent that Boise has been recognized as a model for how you successfully bring refugees to your community. – Mayor David Bieter

As StateImpact has reported, Boise was thought to be an especially good place for refugee resettlement prior to the recession, based on considerations including the city’s low unemployment rate, relatively affordable housing, and good public schools.  But the recession dealt a blow.  It left many refugees struggling to find jobs.  Take a look at the employment statistics:


[spreadsheet key=”0AtNHLtezDs_XdHZIUDllQmxRUmVSSEZmUGotVlV1VXc” source=”Idaho Office for Refugees” sheet=0 filter=0 paginate=0 sortable=0]
That story led to further reporting, this time on problems with the State Department funded program that grants loans to refugees to cover their cost of travel to the U.S.  More about that program is available here.


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