How do refugees get money for cars, houses, education, businesses?
The program is known as Individual Development Accounts through the Office of Refugee Resettlement (HHS).
This is one of the many ways your local refugee resettlement contractor is able to hand out government (your) cash to refugees and surely get a little cash for themselves for administering the program. (There are also micro-enterprise loan programs especially for refugees as well).
The local contractor gets a grant from ORR and then refugees may sign up for the savings plan.
For every dollar they save toward certain savings goals, they are matched with a dollar from the US Treasury. Frankly the complete unfairness of the program to American low income people is often responsible for the hard feelings toward some refugees in certain areas.
We have heard disgruntled citizens ask, for example: how are they getting cars?
We have reported on this program often but the story we mentioned from Kentucky (yesterday) contained a reference to the program that you may not have noticed, so I thought some clarification was needed.
Here is the section of the ‘Refugees get new homes’ Bowling Green article (hat tip: Robin) that I want you to see:
When Me Meh and her family escaped Burma for a refugee camp in Thailand, they lived in a bamboo house without electricity or other amenities.
The family of 10 resettled in Bowling Green in 2009, bringing with them only some clothes and important papers, Meh said. She was 17. Meh’s two older brothers and her father started work while she went to school and her mother took care of their home.
After a couple of years, the three had saved $4,000. She said the International Center gave them a grant that matched their savings, and they were able to put a downpayment on a house.
The reader is left with the impression that this very nice resettlement contractor—the International Center—was being generous, but this is taxpayer money that was only passed-through the contractor’s coffers!
Go here for a recent list of grantees for the multi-million dollar program. And, for more information you might want to look at page 38-40 of the FY2012 Annual Report to Congress. While you are visiting the Annual Report, check out all of the other grant programs that refugee contractors can apply for. You will be amazed!
Addendum: I was once told by an official involved with the refugee program in Washington that there is no financial audit done of these resettlement contractors.