In a Nov. 6 letter to Portland’s State Senators and Representatives, Mayor Kate Snyder requested the lawmakers’ assistance in identifying state or federal funding for the city’s resettlement of migrants.
“On behalf of the City of Portland, I am writing to request your assistance in identifying State or Federal funding to continue this vital program, which addresses the critical and basic needs of thousands of asylum seekers annually,” Mayor Snyder wrote.
Currently, the City of Portland Resettlement Program depends entirely on federal funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Emergency Food and Shelter Program.
On Dec. 31, 2023, that federal funding will end, and will be replaced by a program that restricts funding to just those services provided in the first 45 days of noncitizen migrants’ arrival in the U.S.
According to Snyder, while the new program will continue to be an “important resource for border communities (or ‘pass-through’ cities),” that funding will be “inaccessible to ‘destination’ cities like Portland, which provide longer-term support and services.”
Portland’s Resettlement Program has provided services to nearly 1,300 migrant families, or approximately 4,200 individuals, since January 2020, Snyder wrote.
Those services include health care, enrolling the children of migrants in schools, access to public transportation, and assistance with permanent housing placements.
“Without this program and as the steady pace of arrivals continues, traditional healthcare systems, social services providers, and community programs will be challenged to meet the increase in need,” the mayor wrote.
While the FEMA-funded program provided $1.16 million to the City of Portland’s Resettlement Program, Snyder wrote that the program “could continue its most vital work” with an annual budget of $700,000.
“To date, we have not been successful in identifying and securing alternative funding
sources,” she wrote. “Respectfully, we ask for your help in securing state or federal funding to ensure that asylum seekers have the skills, resources, and services they need to thrive.”