BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — American officials estimate that as many as 100,000 Ukrainian refugees could live in the United States as some of them will end up in Western New York. Meanwhile, state officials have announced $6 million in state budget funding to help with the situation.
A member of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, Mark Houghton, is the point person overseeing Ukrainian refugees.
“We have many Ukrainian folks who are willing to take people into their homes,” he says. “We’re also working with a couple of agencies that shall be nameless that will house the refugees.”
Houghton says it’s unclear how many are coming to Buffalo.
“Everything is up in the air, everything changes like the immigration status,” he says. “We are waiting to hear, but we have immigration attorneys. We looked into renting classrooms for PTSD help, job training, especially English language training.”
Senator Sean Ryan says doubling the state budget is an investment to help agencies that help refugees.
“When refugees settle to places like Buffalo, they get 90 days of assistance through the federal program,” the senator says. “But every refugee resettlement agency would tell you if they have more days of assistance, they can really help integrate people into schools, language programs, and jobs, so this money allows them to provide services.”
One of those services set to receive some money is the International Institute of Buffalo.
“It’s hard to say how many are we going to get. I can tell you that with the evacuation of Afghanistan, Buffalo received about 600 and counting,” Jennifer Rizzo-Choi says. “That number is still going up, so I think it’s possible to say that we probably will get a sizable number of Ukrainians.”
Rizzo-Choi of the International Institute says there’s a process any refugee must go through when they arrive in Buffalo.
“They’re signed into a resettlement agency like the International Institute of Buffalo, and we then sign them to a caseworker,” Rizzo-Choi says. “We pick them up from the airport when they arrive here, and we take them to their housing.”