Arlington, Va. — After careful consideration and community consultations, The Ethiopian Community Development Council, Inc. (ECDC) proposed Wausau, Wisconsin as a new refugee resettlement site in its funding proposal to the Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) for the Reception and Placement (R&P) Program for FY 2022. The proposal has been submitted and ECDC expects to be notified if its proposal is accepted at the end of summer/early fall. If the proposal is approved, ECDC would open a branch office in Wausau and begin resettling refugees from October 2021 onward. ECDC facilitated discussion with local leaders and community stakeholders in May around the needs of newly arriving refugees and the role the community would be expected to play to support their integration. As a result of the discussion, a target of welcoming 75 refugees to the city in FY 2022 was proposed. Individuals and families would not all arrive at the same time but rather come over the course of the year.
ECDC based in Arlington, Va., is one of nine national resettlement agencies that has been resettling refugees since 1991, working with a network of 15 affiliate organizations around the country. When ECDC considers opening a new site for refugee resettlement, it undertakes a thorough review process to examine multiple factors which are required for effective resettlement and integration. This includes assessing the availability and capacity of the local systems which will be required to meet the ongoing needs of refugees related to employment, affordable housing, medical care, education, etc. as well as broader participation in the community’s civic life. Hearing from community members and local leaders about the opportunities and limitations in their community is a critical part of the review process. After conducting community consultations in Wausau, ECDC’s Director of Community Engagement remarked, “It was inspiring to see so many community stakeholders, across sectors, turn up to show their support for welcoming refugees to their community. Based on our visit, it seems clear that Wausau has a strong network of service providers that work together to meet the needs of their community and dedicated community members who want to make their community welcoming and who recognize the economic and diversity benefit that newcomers bring with them.”
In preparation for the possibility that the proposed plan is accepted, ECDC is continuing to engage with community stakeholders and take preliminary steps that will facilitate a smooth process to open an office and launch the program. This will include hiring local staff, including a Director and a team of Case Managers responsible for delivering the program. Successful refugee welcome and integration, however, also depends on the participation of local service providers, businesses, and community groups as co-sponsors. Therefore, ECDC intends to continue engaging in community conversations throughout the program and continuously find better ways to ensure that the resettlement process is mutually positive and that refugees become contributing members of the local community.
Media Contact: Emily Gilkinson, EGilkinson@ecdcus.org