No refugees = no money. It’s as simple as that. As we have said on previous occasions, volags are contracted by the federal government and paid by the head to resettle refugees. For some reason, which is not fully explained in this Jewish Week article, the New York Association for New Americans (NYANA) has run out of money. Granted the article says there aren’t as many Jewish refugees these days, but resettlement agencies like the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society are still in business. They don’t just resettle Jews, but also Muslims and people of other religions.
After nearly 60 years of helping Jewish refugees find better lives in New York, an agency that at its peak aided some 50,000 clients in one year is expected to shut its doors this summer as a result of a dwindling case load and difficulty in competing for social service contracts.
The New York Association for New Americans was founded in 1949 as part of the Jewish community’s efforts to absorb tens of thousands who fled persecution and chaos, mostly from the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. The refugees were brought to America by the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society.
“We are trying to wind it down,” said Joseph Lazar, the agency’s interim CEO. “If you don’t have the refugees coming in, you don’t have the money coming in and you don’t have a way to really function.”
The article does say that NYANA didn’t broaden its programs enough to be competitive with bigger volags in attracting your tax dollars, oops, government grants. Also, it might be that the federal government is making sure refugees are spread throughout America in small and medium-sized cities and away from the traditional gateway cities like New York.
Though founded with the stated mission of helping Jewish refugees — it turns no one away, but has historically seen only a small stream of non-Jewish aid-seekers — NYANA in recent years has tried to branch out to provide services such as a mental health clinic, domestic abuse counseling and micro-loans for small businesses that appeal to a wider clientele in hopes of increasing revenues from government grants. A trend in government contracting today is toward large-capacity agencies that can take over the work of several smaller groups, generating efficiency and financial savings.
There is more to this story than meets the eye.
Note: There needs to be another name for these groups! Volag stands for volunteer agency but they are far from it. Did you notice how many employees NYANA had?