INTERFAITH MINISTRIES CONTINUES ITS
MISSION TO RESETTLE REFUGEES
HOUSTON (September 21, 2016) – Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston (IM) is committed to serving refugees despite the State of Texas’ decision to withdraw from its participation in the federal refugee resettlement program.
“We are working closely with other resettlement agencies, both locally and nationally, and looking at options for continuing this valuable program,” said Martin B. Cominsky, IM’s President & CEO. “We believe strongly that we have a moral responsibility to help those fleeing persecution and death, regardless of their country of origin or faith tradition.”
The Texas Health and Human Services Commission announced today that it was giving notice to the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services (USDHHS) that it would no longer coordinate the distribution of federal funds for refugee services. The USDHHS’ Office of Refugee Resettlement has 120 days to implement an alternative funding mechanism using nongovernmental entities.
A number of models currently exist for the funneling of federal funds to refugee services, and Cominsky said IM and other agencies are optimistic that the transition can be accomplished without interruption of valuable refugee services, such as healthcare and housing.
IM serves more than 2,000 refugees each year, providing housing and employment assistance, access to schooling and other social services. More than 90 percent no longer require refugee assistance after six months.
Cominsky noted that refugees undergo rigorous security screenings that can last up to two years and that many are fleeing terrorism that has threatened the safety of their own families back home.
“IM’s faith traditions mandate that we welcome and assist the oppressed; that we welcome the stranger,” he said. “To turn our backs at this time would be counter to the tradition of hospitality that is a hallmark of the Lone Star State.”
ABOUT INTERFAITH MINISTRIES FOR GREATER HOUSTON
A United Way agency, Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston (IM) brings people of diverse faith traditions together for dialogue, collaboration and service, as a demonstration of our shared beliefs. IM provides three main services: Meals on Wheels for Greater Houston which delivers more than 1.5 million meals each year to seniors in Harris and Galveston Counties; Refugee Services which, in conjunction with the U.S. State Department, resettles thousands of refugees in Houston; and, Interfaith Relations, which provides community services fostering understanding, respect and engagement among Houstonians of all faiths.